The Smothers Brothers ran a comedy-variety show that featured not just that comedy duo, but also the top musical acts like the Who and the Beatles. Along that way, they presented comedy that poked humor at politics, the Vietnam War, religion, sexuality and censorship in with fearless bravado.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Two episodes of the show were taped during two separate musicians' strikes. In a novel move, the Jimmy Joyce singers "performed" the instrumental parts of the show, including the opening theme and the accompaniment for the musical guests. In the second show, though, rock group Steppenwolf lip-synched to a recording of their hit "Magic Carpet Ride". See more »
Tommy, you can't have a party at my house!
Don't worry about it.
Well why shouldn't I worry about it?
You're not invited.
See more »
A Comedy-Variety Show in the Grand, Old Tradition of Benny, Ceasar, Gleason, Hope and Berle. But this was the '60's and it turned into a Hatfields vs. McCoys feud.
The Late Mr. Steve Allen once said that usually no one ever set out to be a Comedian; rather they usually started out as a funny Musician, a funny Salesman, a funny Juggler or whatever have you. As a fine example, we cite the example of 5 brothers, musicians out of Vaudeville. They were Leonard, Adolph, Milton, Julius and Herbert.
These Brothers gradually began to feature their wild and outrageous improvised humor as the main ingredient of their act. Upon the suggestion of The New Yorker Magazine Critic, Alexander Woolcott, the Brothers dropped their proper given names in favor of their nicknames of Chico, Harpo, Gummo, Groucho and Zeppo. The Marx Brothers, as we know them, had arrived.
Then it shouldn't have been any sort of a shocker in the 1960's to see a Folk Song pair turn their act from the Hootenanny to Comedy.
In 1965 "THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS SHOW" debuted on the CBS Television Network. This was a half-hour situation comedy. The basic premise:Tom had died, but was returned to Earth as an Angel: His mission reforming his younger brother.Dick was rapidly becoming both ruthless in Business and Industry; as well as a Big Womanizer.
One had to keep a close watch on the happenings of a half-hour episode, as you would find Tommy all over the place. We recall in one episode we saw the two brothers in a tough situation involving a hold-up or some such crime (the Smothers Boys innocent). As the scene quickly changes to a responding Police Patrol Car, we are taken inside to see the 2 man crew talking about their impending assignment; we discover one of the Cops as being Tommy. In full uniform and all of a sudden sporting a modified Kaiser Wilhelm hair culture above his upper lip; he is one easily missed by the home viewers.
Angels are good box office in the case of a sentimental Christmas Time Movie like Frank Capra's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) or in Dramatic TV Series, such as Michael Landon's "HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN" (!984-89) or "TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL" (1994-2003), starring Miss Della Reese & Company. But apparently the same doesn't hold true for sitcom/farce; as the series was axed at the end of the TV Spring Semester.
Only a half year later, CBS was so sure of the Smothers capabilities that they okayed a deal for Tom and Dick to return to the Network; but this time it would not be a filmed sitcom. Instead plans were made to produce an hour long Comedy-Variety Show, to be aired Sunday evenings. On February 5, Anno Domini 1967, it was the premier installment of "THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR." At last a show of their own, where they could be themselves and do their own thing. And like all Variety, they assembled a gang of regulars of their own to fill out the Playbill along with the best Guest Starring roster. And that included the best guests from all ends of the entertainment industry; be they Movie Stars, Rock Bands & Individuals, Comedians and Tragedians, alike.
They hit the ground running and never slowed down. Their humor was broad and they were constantly pushing the envelope. Their regulars fast became household names. What with Miss Leigh French's 'Hip' commentaries, some subtly making references to the growing drug culture and Pat Paulson's Editorials, we had more regular features to look forward to each week.
And speaking of Mr. Paulson, he gets our vote for the Smothers Brothers Find of the Show. Although he had certainly been around for some time and was definitely not an "overnight" success, it was on The Comedy Hour that he got his big break and got recognition for his talents and abilities. His running for President was at once the peak and valley of his career. It gave him the greatest exposure and camera time and gave all of us many a good laugh at our own Political System. But, when it was all over, and the team of Nixon & Agnew proved to be the winning ticket, where did this leave Pat Paulson? Long about the same time, 1968, the Smothers Brothers began to do more and more political humor and it definitely leaned solely to the Left. CBS tried to rein the Brothers Show in and exert some control, but somebody in the Smothers' Camp was insistent on continuing needling the Nixon Administration, The War in 'Nam, Civil Rights movement and Racial Strife, the Hip Counter Culture and words like cannabis sativa.
Ratings were good, but had begun to slip. Finally CBS reminded the Smothers Boys that it was their Ball Park (Network) and their ball. If they didn't want to play by their ground rules, the game was over. So, it was over.
In retrospect (and all hind sight is 20-20!) we can only say that perhaps the boys got to hung up o the idea of making these "meaningful" statements, political or otherwise. We don't pretend to tell anyone that they can't have their own feelings and beliefs; but one shouldn't get all hung up on this point. After all, when your not funny, what's the use?
Looking back on that CBS-Smothers Brothers feud, it all seems just a little trivial. Particularly when one thinks of this bygone period of nearly a half a century ago and contrasts it to our anything goes world today, it is strictly "G" Rating material.
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