If you’re a fan of the 1960’s and ’70’s, then you may remember the Rowan and Martin Laugh-In Show. PBS is airing a special entitled The Best of Laugh-In and it gives us an opportunity to laugh out loud. And recall our favorite characters portrayed by actors such as Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin. What made this show unique is that most of the hour was ad-libbed. There wasn’t a formal script, and if there was an attempt to script something, it quickly got pre-empted by the natural talents of the comedians and actors’ ability to improvise, laugh their way through the show, and bring the audience along for a fun and quirky time. What I appreciated about this show is said best by PBS:
“THE BEST OF LAUGH-IN revisits the 60s and explores how this game-changing show broke down the traditional separation of comedy, musical performance, and dramatic interludes which marked earlier variety shows. Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, successful Las Vegas entertainers, sought to orchestrate the proceedings but were constantly swamped by the flow of sight gags and eccentric performances surrounding them. Similarly, guest stars played no privileged role here. Everyone seemed to want to appear on Laugh-in, with guests on one memorable episode including John Wayne, Jack Lemmon, Sammy Davis Jr., Kirk Douglas, and even the Reverend Billy Graham and presidential candidate Richard Nixon.”
Breaking down barriers, transcending the norm, cutting edge, and mirthful laughter were just some of the results of this show that was never meant to run more than just one time! Laughter and humor blended together and brought their television audience a needed escape from the rioting, confusion, and often-times mistrust of the ’60’s and ’70’s eras. We know that humor isn’t always contagious so for some, Laugh-In was a bit of a mystery much like not getting the punch line of someone’s joke. For many, Laugh-In was a great way to learn punch lines for the office water cooler conversations such as “Sock it to me” and “Here Come da Judge”.
Here are some clips to either remind you or introduce you to this original concept of comedy, humor, and laughter for the television screen.
Enjoy and for fun, maybe you can experience your own Laugh-In!