John Marshall, a comedian and writer who earned an Emmy nomination for writing on HBO’s The Chris Rock Show, and who executive-produced multiple annual ceremonies for the Writers Guild Awards, has died from cancer.
Raised in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., Marshall studied playwriting at the University of Pennsylvania. The bio for his first novel, a 2017 parody of The Godfather called “The Greenfather,” said Marshall had grown up a mile from Washington Irving’s grave, and that “his first story, written at age four, was called ‘What to Do If You See a Big Scary Dog.’ It had five words: ‘Fall, senseless, to the ground.’”
He studied improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York City and Second City in Los Angeles, and got an early break in show business on a talk-show pilot in 1996 called Headliners.
Marshall found more success writing jokes about the news. In addition to writing for Chris Rock, Marshall’s credits included Politically Incorrect, Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, The Electric Company, plus contributions to both MAD magazine and “Bazooka Joe” comics.
Check him out scoring a big laugh and a high-five in this episode from Tough Crowd where he sat alongside the late great Patrice ONeal, Kevin Hart and Bobby Kelly.
Bryan Tucker, longtime Saturday Night Live writer, wrote:
“Here’s my favorite memory about John: We were office-mates on The Chris Rock Show 20 years ago. It the first real job in show business for both of us. John and I were both nervous every day, but he was better at assimilating and being part of things, and he brought me up with him. The show ended abruptly when Chris decided to stop at the end of our season. A few weeks later, John and I had lunch at a diner. We were both newly unemployed and nervous again. I was especially nervous, and I told John I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a TV job again. John said, “Of course you’re going to get a job! You wrote for THE CHRIS ROCK SHOW! You’re officially a muther fucker!!” I felt a lot better after that. A few months later, I got another job. And two years later, John and I worked together again on Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn. The day John came on, I said something like, “Glad were working together again.” And he said, “I knew we would! We’re muther fuckers!”
Jeff Kreisler, who started The Final Edition ,a parody project with The National Lampoon‘s Tony Hendra, said Marshall was his first or second hire. “In my constant dream of having “a show,” he was always, the first or second hire,” Kreisler recalls. “I don’t know who gets how important that is. I means I trust John Marshall with my life, my life’s work. He’s funny, YES, and smart and thoughtful and kind and well-rounded. He’s also stubborn and pigheaded and grumpy and always chose different hills upon which to die than I would… but that’s part of why I love him.”
He shared with me: “This was one of my favorites of john’s on The Final Edition. There are many more. He probably wrote 100-150 sketches for us.”
Marshall was a writer who supported writers, whether it was executive-producing the NYC ceremony for the Writers Guild Awards from 2014-2016, or performing at a fund-raiser for the families of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.