Joe Piscopo (born June 17, 1951, Passaic, New Jersey) is an American comedian known for his work on Saturday Night Live. Piscopo planned to study acting but went into stand-up comedy in the late 1970s. In the summer of 1980 he was hired as a contract player for SNL. The show had gone through major upheaval, as all the writers, major producers and cast members had left that spring. The all-new cast bombed with critics and fans. Piscopo and Eddie Murphy were the exceptions and the only two cast members to be kept when Dick Ebersol took over the show in spring 1981. Piscopo was best known for his boorish impressions of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra (he wrote Sinatra a letter asking his permission; Sinatra agreed and jokingly dubbed him "vice-chairman of the board"). Piscopo left SNL in 1984, but unlike Murphy, did not find major success. He appeared in a few semi-successful films, appeared in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and had his own HBO comedy special, but was regarded more as a punch line to a bad joke about the doomed careers of most SNL alumni.
During his time on SNL, Piscopo recorded the hit single "The Honeymooners Rap" in which he impersonated Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden of The Honeymooners. (Also appearing on the single was an uncredited Eddie Murphy as Art Carney's character, Ed Norton). "The Honeymooners Rap" also appeared on Piscopo's 1985 comedy album New Jersey.
In the early 1990s, Piscopo became a subject of controversy after his newly buffed-up physique and appearances on fitness magazines led many to speculate he was using steroids. Piscopo has repeatedly denied the allegations and says he began a campaign to improve his body after battling thyroid cancer from 1981 to 1982. He has also appeared in anti-steroid PSAs.
In more recent years Piscopo appeared in the long-running Broadway revival of Grease, guest-starred on major TV series such as Law & Order and toured with other SNL alumni such as Kevin Nealon and Victoria Jackson. Piscopo is most often cast as a villain in comedies most like the Chuck Norris vehicle Sidekicks and Johnny Dangerously. One of his more amusing character parts was as ladies man Rocky in the contemporary version of Herman Melville's Bartleby (2001). He lives in New Jersey with his wife Kimberly and 3 children. Many in his native New Jersey have urged Piscopo to run for state office, and Piscopo considers himself "a Democrat, but very conservative."