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Chuckles the Clown weeps: David Lloyd, the great TV comedy writer, has died

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David Lloyd, the extraordinarily prolific, witty sitcom writer, died on Tuesday, Nov. 10. He was 75; the cause of death was prostate cancer.

A Yale graduate who started his career writing jokes for The Jack Paar Show, Lloyd went on to write for a number of exceptional sitcoms, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Cheers, Taxi, and Frasier.

Lloyd was perhaps best-known for writing what is probably the most famous episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, “Chuckles Bites The Dust,” for which he won an Emmy in 1976. The episode captured Lloyd’s comic sensibility: a nuanced understanding of the complex emotions that go into provoking a laugh:

There is a remarkable tribute to Lloyd on comedy writer Ken Levine’s blog. Levine describes better than probably anyone else will the diverse gifts Lloyd possessed.

Lloyd’s son Christopher is the creator of ABC’s new hit sitcom Modern Family. His son Stephen is a producer for How I Met Your Mother.

In many ways, David Lloyd helped to create what we call the “workplace family” comedy, in which people who labor long hours together bond and quarrel and joke and cry, as a “real” family might. Lloyd knew how to join people together — as characters, and as a vast audience for those characters.

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