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This show was to the 1960's what Your Show of Shows was to the 50's, Saturday Night Live was to the 70's and in Living Color was to the 90's. It was a breeding ground for some of the finest comic talent of the last nearly 40 years. The catchphrases, the schtick and, most of all, the joke wall were all vital parts of this show. And look at all the alumni. Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Lily Tomlin, Henry Gibson et. al have all gone on to bigger and better things. In fact, Goldie Hawn parlayed her Laugh-In stardom into an Oscar for the Cactus Flower. Unfortunately, the show couldn't hold onto its best talent and eventually it faded in its final couple of years. However, this show will still be remembered for being a wonderful breeding ground.
Thank God for the Trio cable network! They air classic "Laugh-In" episodes
weekday afternoons and that's how I first came upon this hilarious gem
the golden age of television.
Headed by longtime comedy partners Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, "Laugh-In" was an hour-long barage of madcap tomfoolery. Short sketches, one-shot gags, "Quickies," as they were called, and guest appearances by everyone from Sammy Davis, Jr., to Johnny Carson to soon-to-be President Richard M. Nixon. It was the springboard for the careers of such stars as Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, Henry Gibson and Ruth Buzzi.
If you have a taste for the weird and the wacky, with an undertone of political commentary (the remarkable thing was how they always presented both sides of any issue they were mocking) or just want to see classics like "The Cocktail Party" or "The Joke Wall," do yourself a favor and check out "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" for hilariosin-entartaina-wonderfulations! (Boy! Look THAT up in your Funk and Wagnall's!)
Sketch comedy 60's style.
This pre-dates most of the SNL and In Living Color style shows that dominated TV in the 70's, 80's & 90's.
Rowan and Martin made an excellent team. Rowan's straight delivery with a hint of exasperation mixed greatly with Martin's sarcastic, deadpan quips.
My personal favorite was Arte Johnson. Anything he did made me laugh like a banshee. And Henry Gibson's poetry was a close second. But there were no duds at all in this show.
Guest watching also made this a fun trip. The psychedelic decor dates it a little, but it doesn't hurt. A lot of the humor seemed off the cuff.
And when Goldie Hawn picked up her Oscar while on the show, the whole cast kept dropping asides about it during that week's filming. They all made several comments about it.
I saw this during it's brief Nickelodeon run in the late 80's. Bring it back.
"Laugh-In" was a solid mix of one liners, sight gags, and other forms of sketch comedy. Designed to be a satire of its times, "Laugh-In" is probably better remembered for its catch phrases, including "Sock it to me," "Very interesting," and "Here come da judge, here come da judge." And let's not forget The Groaning Wall. The variety series was hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, and launched the careers of Goldie Hawn, Richard Dawson, and Steve Martin. After six years on the air, "Laugh-In" bowed out of the prime time spotlight. Now if only Some Newer Latenight variety show had the same common sense to quit while it was ahead.
This program featured cutting edge editing and was produced by GEORGE SCHLATTER (a legend in the comedy field). The editing was quick. A good example would be the part of the show where the hosts would walk into the room where the "party" was going on...they'd quick cut to a few characters then off to ARTE JOHNSON in a german helmet. Prior to this show, this type of quick editing was impossible. I believe the show used cutting edge editing equip...I think they were AMPEX machines, I'm not for sure...I do know that the humor on this show is dated, but the production values made it a first.
"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
"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.
In the evolution of television humor Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In was probably
the forerunner of Saturday Night Live. It's relevant social commentary
combined with incredibly adroit acerbic wit allowed this show to cover
social, personal, political, and moral territory no show had ever dared
attempt on prime time television.
For those who watched regularly the catch phrases were priceless and introduced them into our mainstream lexicon. Sayings such as "sock it to me" were not only uttered by business execs, secretary's, hosuewives, and everyday working people wishing to emulate the awakening of social moree's but also spoken freely by media and political types wishing to be thought of as in touch with the younger hip generation.
Laugh-In spared no one in it's sarcasm and very often stepped dangerously close to the edge with network execs. Once the show caught fire with TV viewers it became sheik for actors, actresses, and politicians to lobby for a position on next week's show.
Unlike SNL Laugh-In could not sustain and reinvent itself and by 1973 the nations TV watchers were ready to move on. Most of the regulars on the show fell into guest shots on other shows and eventually drifted out of site of the public. A couple of the alumni went on to great success in movies and tv. Goldie Hawn was a "graduate" of the show and went on to win an Academy Award for Cactus Flower in 1969 and has become a certifiable star in Hollywood. Lily Tomlin, and who can forget her priceless portrayal of Ernestine the telephone operator at the switchboard, went on to become one of America's most beloved and cherished comedic performers who also showed her acting agility in dramatic roles as well.
All in all Laugh-In is a part of television history and deserves its place as a cherished memory and deserving of re-run time on TV Land.
The first three seasons of this show encapsulated the sheer energy of social and sexual revolution of the late 1960's.On the surface it was patchy,often very funny,satirical and not afraid to poke fun at the US involvement in the Vietnam war and the Nixon administration.It launched the careers of many of todays Film and Tv stars and inspired many a generation with it's trademark "Sock it to me", "Fickle Finger of Fate" and those epilepsy-instigating Party Sequences each episode. True, as with all shows of their time, a lot of the references and humour may have dated badly, but for a Pre-PC generation, it was naughty and not what your parents would want you to watch.Perfect. Many contemporary reviewers dismiss the show as vulgar and irrelevant, but for people who actually watched it at the time, it was breaking the formula of the TV variety show.It was the epitome of groovy and psychadelia for Network TV-very fast, energetic, colorful and loud which really hadn't been seen before. By 1970,most of the original cast had gone and the show started to look back on itself and died. It lasted another 3 years, but it could never recapture the excitement of the first three years.I think this holds true for society in general.Maybe today's politically correct generation really cannot appreciate the enjoyment gained by watching Laugh In for the first time.
Actually, even though you'd think this was an original idea, the folks who created this updated Olsen & Johnson's HELLAZPOPPIN (film version 1941) Broadway show. The show ran during the height of the Vietnam war & even though it ran pieces protesting the war, it also ran cameos on Nixon & all the famous politics's who were supporting it too. The show is often a bunch of disjointed sketches with the only thing in common the fact that it followed a framework every week. The opening would feature Gary Owens & Morgel the Friendly Drelb and a few sketches. Then Rowan & Martin would come out & do some quickie stand up comedy. Next would be the party where all kinds of characters would show up including the great flesh painted dancing of Judy Carne, Goldie Hawn, Terri Garr & others. After the party, the Laugh-In Dancers & Goldie would blow an introduction to the News. Martin would do the news of the Present, Rowan would do the news of the Future, Alan Sues would do sports with BIG AL & his tinkle, then Rowan would intro a sketch to news of the past. Once this part of the framework was over, a special musical guest would appear (I remember Strawberry Alarm Clock doing TOMORROW in one early episode). Eventually another rotating feature would be put in like THE FICKLE FINGER OF FATE, or Lily Tomlin doing an Operator routine or spoiled girl in giant rocking chair. Then finally we'd get to the joke wall (say Goodnight Dick) where almost anything would get thrown in. The credits would roll with the wall & then the end would be Arte Johnson as the German Soldier (sometimes with help) saying Very Interesting but... enjoyable but dated with the dippy sets now days. Fast paced too
Made when America didn't hate Richard Nixon and when it was okay to make sexist jokes because women wanted to be ogled, this show will always have something worth laughing at....it was called "liberation," baby...
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