R.I.P. Pam Matteson

Pam Matteson, a stand-up comedian and impersonator who performed in the 1988 movie Punchline, has died after her third bout with cancer in the past decade. Matteson was 61.

Born Sept. 23, 1953, the Brooklyn native made her way toward Hollywood by the early 1980s, where she scored bit parts in episodes of TV’s Gimme a Break! In 1986, she performed as one of the Girls of The Comedy Store in an hourlong TV special headlined by Shirley Hemphill (What’s Happening?). Her appearance in Punchline as comedian “Utica Blake” soon followed, then credits which included The Tonight Show, a Showtime special, Comedy Central’s The A-List, and FOX’s primetime showcase The Sunday Comics. Her signature impersonation was that of Cher, which also allowed Matteson to show off her own singing chops — she’d also impersonate Cher in a Super Mario Bros. TV special.

Comedy Central, 1992:

Sunday Comics, hosted by Lenny Clarke, 1991:

Twenty minutes with a tough crowd in Arizona, 1983:

Comedy Central, 1992:

Matteson might not have many recent credits, but she was still performing up to 2012, as noted in a promo ad for the Las Vegas room of The Laugh Factory at The Tropicana.

Fred Stoller wrote of Matteson: “A lovely person I met when I worked the first time in Philly (Comedy Works?) and she had the whole cast of Annie that she was in come to the show. But years later she said something that I quote forever. I was with another comic from Philly at the Improv, The Legendary Wid, and we were describing our friend, Vinnie DiAngelo to her, telling her what a character he was. She looked at me and Wid and said, “You two are calling someone else a character?” It hit me only in showbiz could someone like me call someone else a character. I say that story so much. But she was a great character and I’m glad she’s not suffering any longer.”

Her husband since 1994, Tim Biddle, wrote on the GoFundMe page for Matteson, which had raised just north of $25,000 when she died (another $1,400 since), that Matteson had just been diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer after recovering from two rounds of ovarian cancer in 2005 and 2012.

Jeff Marder, comedian who employed Matteson when he hosted a late-night TV pilot for ABC back in 1990 (“Marder at Midnight”) during the Johnny Carson era, had this to write about Matteson. This excerpt especially hits home:

“I want to say two things. I adored Pam. She was wacky as fuck. She was talented as hell. And she was blessed. Literally, truly blessed to be married…fused…to a partner that worshipped her. I don’t want Tim to be further burdened more than he already inconceivably must be. Please stay with me through this crunchy part of the post. The GoFundMe part where I’m going to ask you to help me bury my friend properly. Just donate anonymously. This way if you give 5 bucks or 500 it doesn’t matter. ‘Love, acts’ You’ve gotta’ match your intentions with actions. Do it again. If not now, when?”

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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