Joseph Laurie, Jr. (24 February 1891 – 29 April 1954) was a Vaudeville comedian, radio host, author, and toastmaster. His book Show Biz: From Vaude to Video is a classic account of the era. He donated his Vaudeville collection to The Lambs; thousands of letters, photos, documents, and ephemera. The Club even has his silver martini set.
Laurie was elected to The Lambs in 1929. During his lifetime, Laurie donated thousands of dollars to theatrical charities from the box office of variety shows.
On radio he was one of the comedic panelists on the popular joke-telling series, Can You Top This? with Brother Lambs Edward Hastings “Senator” Ford and Harry Hershfield. He also portrayed the character of Sniffy on the Mutual daytime drama, We Were Always Young.
Laurie’s jokes were part of Cream of the Crop (Grosset and Dunlap, 1947) along with other members of the Can You Top This? team. He collaborated with Abel Green on the show business history, Show Biz: From Vaude to Video (1951) and then followed with his memoir, Vaudeville: From the Honky-Tonks to the Palace (1953).
Laurie’s first wife was his vaudeville partner, Aleen Bronson, in the act, Laurie & Bronson. During the 1940s, Laurie and his second wife, Nellie Butcher (1922–1954), stage named June Tempest, lived in Manhattan. He was survived by his son, Joseph Bryant Hughes Laurie.
He died in 1954. Laurie’s papers were donated to the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.