Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
Pencilled in as a mid-season replacement, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In quickly became appointment TV Monday nights, what everyone was talking about Tuesday morning.
It was sketch comedy that broke the rules by treading on political waters that no sketch comedy had dared to tread, even getting presidential candidate Richard Nixon to appear and utter one of the show's catch phrases "Sock it to me."
It was a quite uniform show structurally. After the opening bits and titles, announced by Gary Owens with hand over ear (and a clock on the wall behind him with hands that point every which way but correctly), Dan and Dick come out with the monologue, which segues into the cocktail party. (Usually a one-liner scroll will appear.) The cocktail party is usually a full-cast fete with the music stopping at intervals to allow the cast to crack jokes (Henry Gibson as a priest: "My church welcomes all denominations, but my favorite is the five dollar bill.") Blackout sketches permeate the hour, interrupted only by features such as Mod Mod World, the Fickle Finger of Fate award, and most famously the Laugh-In News. In a coincidental but eerie case, Dan Rowan, in his News Of The Future bit, would report on President Reagan and the Berlin Wall coming down. In 1981, Ronald Reagan would be sworn into office and the Berlin Wall would be torn down in 1989.
Other features included Arte Johnson and Ruth Buzzi as, respectively, a little old man named Tyrone and a little old lady named Gladys. Meeting at a park bench, Tyrone would make propositions to Gladys only for Gladys to beat him senseless with her purse. The characters would become cartoon characters in 1977 on NBC’s Baggy Pants and the Nitwits.
The show was famous for launching many catch phrases, such as "You bet your sweet bippy," "Verrry Interrresting," "Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls," "Here come de judge," and the aforementioned "Sock it to me." At the end of each show, Dan would instruct "Say goodnight, Dick." To which Dick would reply "Goodnight, Dick!", and the credits would roll during the joke wall segment. After some more blackouts, the ending title of "Schlatter-Friendly" would be displayed to the sound of one person clapping. The clapping would still be heard through the NBC "snake" logo animation. In 1969, the show spun off a daytime game show edition on NBC, Letters to Laugh-In.
Laugh-In also led to success of many of its regulars, most notably Goldie Hawn, who parlayed her lovable dumb blonde act in the movie "Cactus Flower," and went on not only to grow as a performer but be a hit in movies.
Laugh-In ran its course by the end of the 1972-73 season, and was revived in 1977 sans Rowan, Martin and the rest of the original cast. Its most noted feature is that one of its semi-regular was a comic named Robin Williams. Also, a Nixon impersonator on the show said "In 1968, I appeared on Laugh-In and said sock it to me...sock it to me. Well, you can stop now!" This version keeps the one person applauding at the end with the recurring sign-off "May the farce be with you."
|Jo Anne Worley||*||*||*|
|Donna Jean Young||*|
|Season One||January 22, 1968||April 29, 1968||14 + 1|
|Season Two||September 16, 1968||March 31, 1969||26|
|Season Three||September 15, 1969||March 16, 1970||26|
|Season Four||September 14, 1970||March 15, 1971||26|
|Season Five||September 13, 1971||March 20, 1972||24|
|Season Six||September 11, 1972||March 12, 1973||24|
|Laugh-In's 25th Anniversary||NBC||February 7, 1993|
|Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In Past Christmas Present||NBC||December 2, 1993|
|Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In: A Valentine's Day Special||NBC||February 14, 1994|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
|'Best Of' Collections|
|The Best of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Volume 1||June 24, 2003||3|
|The Best of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Volume 2||February 24, 2004||3|