For other uses, see Jack Burns (disambiguation).

Jack Burns (born November 15, 1933) is an American comedian and voice actor.


In 1959, he began his career as a comedy team with George Carlin when both were working for radio station KXOL in Fort Worth, Texas.[1] After successful performances at Fort Worth's beat coffeehouse, The Cellar, Burns and Carlin headed for California in February 1960 and stayed together for two years as a team before moving on to individual pursuits. An album containing some of their material was released in 1963, titled Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight.

Longer lasting was a later teaming with Avery Schreiber, whom he met when they were both members of The Second City, a live comedy and improv club based in Chicago. Burns and Schreiber were best known for a series of routines in which Burns played a talkative taxicab passenger, with Schreiber as the driver.[2]

Burns played the dedicated but inept deputy sheriff Warren Ferguson during the first half of the 1965-1966 season of The Andy Griffith Show, as Barney Fife's replacement after Don Knotts left the cast. His character was not popular and was dropped without explanation after eleven appearances. The series did not have a deputy after Burns left the cast, though Goober Pyle was available in an emergency.

Burns voiced Harry Boyle's right-wing maniac neighbor Ralph Kane in the short-lived syndicated primetime cartoon Wait till Your Father Gets Home.

Burns was the head writer for the first season of The Muppet Show. His comedy partner Avery Schreiber appeared on an episode of the first season. He also co-wrote The Muppet Movie (with Jerry Juhl, his successor as head writer of The Muppet Show).

In 1967, he was cast as the 'Candy Butcher' in "The Night They Raided Minsky's", a movie about burlesque.

Jack Burns hosted a 1977 episode of Saturday Night Live, which became the first episode to carry this title, after Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell was canceled.

In the early 1980s, Burns became a writer, announcer and sometimes-performer for the ABC sketch show Fridays (which was modeled heavily after SNL in format). He and comedian Michael Richards were involved in a staged on-air fight with Andy Kaufman, later re-created in the Kaufman biopic Man on the Moon.

He teamed with Lorenzo Music to provide the voices for a pair of crash test dummies respectively named Vince and Larry in a series of United States Department of Transportation public service announcements that promoted the use of seat belts. Distributed by the Ad Council, the advertising campaign ran from 1985 to 1998.[3] In 1993, Burns starred in the cartoon-series Animaniacs, as the voice of Sid the Squid, giving the character a raspy, Daffy Duck kind of voice. Former partner Avery Schreiber also appeared on the show as Beanie the Bison.

Burns also provided a guest voice for a 1999 episode of The Simpsons, Beyond Blunderdome.


  1. "Texas Radio Hall of Fame: George Carlin". 
  2. McLellan, Dennis (January 9, 2002). "Avery Schreiber, 66. Jack Burns' Comedy Partner.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-04-26. Avery and Schreiber began working as a team again in 1972, after getting together for a benefit in Los Angeles. In 1973, ABC gave them a summer variety series, "The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour." 
  3. Mirabella, Lorraine. "Annapolis ad man one of the brains behind the Crash Test Dummies," The Baltimore Sun, Saturday, July 31, 2010.

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