Jonathan Michael Lovitz (born July 21, 1957) is an American comedian, actor, and singer perhaps best known as a cast member of Saturday Night Live and the voice of Jay Sherman in The Critic. He is also a frequent guest star on The Simpsons. His first character, Artie Ziff, was originally supposed to be a one-off character. But the staff loved Lovitz so they kept bringing him back.
Lovitz was born in Tarzana California, to a Jewish couple. He attended and studied theater at the University of California at Irvine and graduated in 1979. He studied acting with Tony Barr at the Film Actors Workshop. He became a member of The Groundlings comedy troupe where he befriended Phil Hartman and Paul Reubens. His father was an immigrant from Albania who lived in Jacksonville, Florida, and later moved to California.
Saturday Night Live
Lovitz was a cast member of Saturday Night Live from 1985 to 1990. He later said in an interview for the book Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live that his time on SNL was the most memorable in his career. He went from having no money to being offered a $500,000 movie contract. He was nominated for an Emmy his first two years on Saturday Night Live. One of his most notable SNL characters was "Tommy Flanagan, The Pathological Liar" that generated the catch phrase, "Yeah! That's the ticket!" Some of his other recurring characters included Master Thespian, Tonto, Mephistopheles, Hanukkah Harry, and Michael Dukakis.
In the late 1990s, Lovitz was "the man who wrote the Yellow Pages", in a series of commercials and print ads for the American Yellow Pages industry.
He also had an unaccredited cameo as a rival crooner to Adam Sandler in the movie The Wedding Singer.
Lovitz has also appeared on Friends twice. He first appeared in the Season 1 episode "The One with the Stoned Guy" as a restaurateur who gets stoned on marijuana trip just prior to interviewing Monica Geller for a job. He reappeared years later in the Season 9 episode "The One with the Blind Dates", where it is revealed that he lost his restaurant due to his drug problem.
He also appeared on Seinfeld as Gary Fogel, a man who lies about having cancer ("The Scofflaw") and later dies in a car accident.
Lovitz guest-starred twice on Newsradio as two separate characters before becoming a cast member in the show's final season (playing a third character).
He has appeared on Broadway at the Music Box Theater in Neil Simon's play The Dinner Party, taking over the lead role from Henry Winkler. He sang at Carnegie Hall three times (including Great Performances' Ira Gershwin at 100: A Celebration at Carnegie Hall) and sang the national anthem at Dodger Stadium and the U.S. Open.
On October 10, 2001, Lovitz sang a duet (with Robbie Williams) of the song "Well, Did You Evah" at the Royal Albert Hall in the UK. The recording can be found on the Swing When You're Winning album.
In 2005, Lovitz entered stand-up comedy for the first time in his career. He also appeared in the film The Producers as the strict accounting firm chairman, Mr. Marx. In 2006, he became the spokesperson in an advertising campaign for the Subway restaurant chain. He was dropped from the campaign later that year by Fred De Luca after test audiences and a number of phone calls and letters deemed him not funny enough to cause people to eat.
On May 31, 2007 the Laugh Factory on Sunset Strip announced that Lovitz had signed a deal to appear there every Wednesday night for the rest of his life. Or, Lovitz could appear in New York if he is there on a project such as a movie. In addition, Lovitz will write a Laugh Factory blog giving advice to up-and-coming comedians. Lovitz commented "Who knows? I could become the Don Ho of Los Angeles," he said. "God knows I've got enough Hawaiian shirts".
Confrontation with Andy Dick
On July 11, 2007, Lovitz got into a violent confrontation with fellow comedian Andy Dick at the Laugh Factory. Lovitz had long blamed Dick for reintroducing Phil Hartman's wife Brynn to cocaine (after 10 years of sobriety) just five months before she would murder her husband and commit suicide. Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada said, "Jon picked Andy up by the head and smashed him into the bar four or five times, and blood started gushing out of his nose." Dick had previously said to Lovitz he would "put the 'Phil Hartman hex' on you - you’re the next one to die." Lovitz told Page Six, "All the comedians are glad I did it because this guy is an asshole." He has not commented further. Lovitz succeeded Hartman on the comedy series NewsRadio following Hartman's murder; Dick was a co-star.
Recently, Lovitz was on the 97.1 Morning Show. When he was asked about the Andy Dick incident, he replied, "Oh, I just call him A. Dick."