Tom Johnson, ‘The Daily Show’ Writer, Dies at 55 Most Popular Must Read Sign Up for Variety Newsletters More From Our Brands Viral Watch


Tom Johnson, a writer and comedian whose credits include “The Daily Show,” “Lopez Tonight” and “The Jeselnik Offensive,” died Jan. 14 in his Los Angeles home. He was 55.

Johnson was hired on the original staff of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” with host Craig Kilborn in 1996. He remained on staff when Jon Stewart took over as host in 1999, and wrote more than 1,200 episodes for the satirical news program. Johnson, who won two Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards for his work on “The Daily Show,” appeared on camera as anonymous hacker Lord Viper Scorpion in several episodes between 2000 and 2001.

Johnson served as head writer for “Talk Show With Spike Feresten” from 2007 to 2009, and later worked as head writer on “Lopez Tonight.” He co-created “The Jeselnik Offensive” with Anthony Jeselnik, where Johnson served as an executive producer and head writer. Even after his death, Johnson is still banned from New Zealand because of a sketch that appeared on “The Jeselnik Offensive.”

Johnson’s other television writing credits include the Grammy Awards, “Comedy Central Roast,” the MTV Movie Awards, “Inside the NBA All-Star Roast” and more. He was one of the authors of the New York Times bestseller “America: The Book.”

Johnson was born Thomas Martin Johnson in Fairfax, Va., on July 25, 1968, to Thomas and Billie Johnson. He began his comedy career after graduating from the University of Missouri and founded the Network Comedy Troupe, where he served as writer, director and mentor.

As a touring comedian, Johnson performed at venues across the U.S. and on television shows such as A&E’s “Caroline’s Comedy Hour” and several Comedy Central specials, often appearing alongside his ventriloquist dummy named Burnie.

Johnson is survived by his wife Rozie Bacchi; sisters Pamela Dawn Foels and Cindy Johnson Doerr; brothers-in-law Stephen Foels and Steve Doerr; nieces Jennifer Lynne Sims, Amanda Jean Strathman, Brooke Alexandra Beck and their spouses; and great nieces Cameron Hazel Sims and Zoey Violet Strathman.



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