One of the many variety shows available in the 1970s (along with Sonny and Cher, Captain and Tennille, Donny and Marie, etc). Hosted by black comic Flip Wilson, this show featured skits, ... See full summary »
An anthology comedy series featuring a line up of different celebrity guest stars appearing in anywhere from one, two, three, and four short stories or vignettes within an hour about versions of love and romance.
This show popularized a rapid style of vignette comedy show where comedy sketches, punch-lines and gags are edited together in a rapid and almost random format. Regular trademark elements included the joke wall, the dancing woman tattooed with one-liners and the fickle finger of fate award. This series would inspire such shows as Monty Python's Flying Circus and Sesame Street. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
"Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" was one of the greatest comedy-musical-variety shows in the history of television. It was one of those rare programs which was not only an overnight sensation when it premiered in 1968,but was highly innovative,created a raft a new stars,and started trends in comedy which other programs would follow. In some ways,it was not original at all,begin a cross between Olsen & Johnson's "Helzapoppin"(which in turn traced its lineage to the frantic,knockabout comedy of the Keystone Cops,not to mention the slapstick of "The Marx Brothers",not to mention "The Three Stooges")and the highly topical satire of "That Was the Week That Was". But "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" crystallized a kind of comptemporary,fast-paced,unstructured comedy "happening" that was exactly what an agitated America wanted in 1968. "Laugh-In" was first seen as a one-time special in September of 1967 on NBC. It was such an enormous hit that inevitably led to a series premiering the following January.
"Laugh-In",premiered its first telecast on NBC on January 22,1968 and from the first episode was an immediate hit. The show would run for five seasons on the network ending its astounding run and it final association with NBC on May 14,1973. An astounding 124 episodes was produced for this series under it's creator Digby Wolfe and executive producer of the series George Schlatter along with associate executive producer Ed Friendly and producer Carolyn Raskin. During the first three seasons of the show,"Laugh-In" went straight to the top of the TV ratings,and from there it was the number-one program on the air during 1968-1971 seasons. From that success,the show garnered two Golden Globes and three Emmys for outstanding performances and achievements as well. Between it's last two seasons(1971-1973)the ratings began to drop due to the fact that George Schlatter left the series for other things and others who were behind the success of the show as well as well as some of the best talent as well which finally ended its run in the spring of 1973.
This was series that was innovative for its time and would become the forerunner of other great shows to follow it. The reason? The lightning fast-paced took full advantage of the technical capabilities of television and videotape. Blackouts,sketches,one-liners,and cameo appearances by famous show-business celebrities and even national politicians were edited into a frenetic whole. The regular cast was large and the turnover high,and the 40 regulars who appeared in the series only four were with it from the beginning to the end--the two hosts(Dan Rowan and Dick Martin),announcer(Gary Owens),and cast regular Ruth Buzzi. This show was a springboard for some of the greatest cast regular who would go on to bigger and better things after their stint on "Laugh-In". Stars like Goldie Hawn,Artie Johnson,Henry Gibson,Ruth Buzzi,along with Joanne Worley,Judy Carne,Larry Hovis,Teresa Graves, Alan Sues,Dave Madden,Richard Dawson,Lily Tomlin,and even Willie Tyler and Lester were some of the stars who made their mark on this show just to name a few and so much more. The essence of "Laugh-In" was basically shtick,a comic routine or trademark repeated over and over until it was closely associated with a performer. People love it come to expect it,and it was the talk around the water cooler the next morning after the show.All of the great comedians had at least one,but what was remarkable about "Laugh-In" was that it developed a whole repertoire of sight gags and catchphrases that became famous and to this day they are still being used which are considered these days..comedy classics. Phrases like "Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls","Very Interesting","You Bet Your Sweet Bibby","Sock It To Me?",not to mention "Beautiful Downtown Burbank",and "Here Comes The Judge!" are nowadays considered useful in terms,but in all aspects this is what made that show brilliant in every aspect and detail. Some of the devices of the show were the fast-paced Cocktail Party,Letters To Laugh-In, The Flying Fickle Finger Of Fate,It's A Mod-Mod World,Laugh-In Looks At The News(of the past,present and future),Hollywood News With Ruth Buzzi,the gags written on the undulating body of a girl in a bikini (which consists of either Goldie Hawn,Judy Carne,Joanne Worley,or Teresa Graves-in a bikini),and not to mention the joke wall at the end of each show.
Among the favorites:Artie Johnson as the German soldier; Ruth Buzzi as the little old lady with an umbrella,forever whacking the equally decrepit old man who get close to her sitting on a park bench; Lily Tomlin as the saracastic,nasal telephone operator; Gary Owens as the outrageously overmodeled announcer; Alan Sues as the grinning moron of a sports announcer; Goldie Hawn as the giggling dumb blonde not to mention Teresa Graves as the soulful go-go mod dancer. The pace was funny but it never let up and it kept going until the end.
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