ROWAN & MARTIN’S LAUGH IN – THE COMPLETE SERIES (NBC 1967-73)
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was one of TV’s classics, one of those rare programs which was not only an overnight sensation, but was highly innovative, created a raft of new stars, and started trends in comedy which other programs would soon follow.
Hosted “from beautiful downtown Burbank” by nightclub comedians Dan Rowan (the straight-man) and Dick Martin, this wacky series provided a contemporary, fast-paced, unstructured comedy that was exactly what an agitated America wanted in 1968.
Laugh-In was first seen as a one-time special on 9 September 9, 1967. It was such a rating hit that it inevitably led to a series. Its lightning-fast pace took full advantage of the technical capabilities of television and videotape. Blackouts, sketches, one-liners, and cameo appearances by famous celebrities and even national politicians were all edited into a frenetic whole.
The show built up a devoted following, eager for such catchphrases as “Verrry interesting . . .”, “Is that a chicken joke?”, “Here come de judge” "You bet your sweet bippy! and “Sock it to me!”.
The regular cast was large and the turnover high, and of the 40 regulars only four were in it from beginning to end, the two hosts, announcer Gary Owens, and Ruth Buzzi.
Judy Carne was the ‘Sock it to me’ girl, and other regulars included Arte Johnson as the German Soldier, peering out from behind a potted palm; Ruth Buzzi as the little old lady with an umbrella, forever whacking the equally decrepit old man who snuggled up beside her on a park bench, and Lily Tomlin as both the sarcastic, nasal telephone operator named Ernestine (pictured at right) and Edith Anne, a child philosopher whose catchphrase was “and that’s the truth”.
Gary Owens was the outrageously over modulated announcer, facing the microphone, hand cupped over ear; Alan Sues was the grinning moron of a sports announcer, and Goldie Hawn the eternally giggling dumb blonde. Hawn’s dumb blonde image on Laugh-In came about unintentionally. She says; “When I first started, I was so nervous that I would look at the cue cards and get all mixed up. The producer loved it and said to keep it that way”.
The series also featured the talents of Jo Anne Worley, Alan Sues, Henry Gibson and Teresa Graves.
Laugh-In carried jokes about subjects like drugs, death, and homosexuality – pretty daring for 1968, particularly for Americans. Nevertheless, the show attracted star guests like John Wayne and even presidential candidate Richard Nixon. Nixon went on during the 1968 election campaign to say, “sock it to me”.
Some of the devices of the show were the Cocktail Party, Letters to Laugh-In, The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award, ‘Laugh-In Looks at the News’, the gags written on the undulating body of a girl in a bikini, and the joke wall at the close of each show, in which cast members kept popping out of windows to throw each other one-liners – or a bucket of water.
Not until Saturday Night Live would another television variety show ensemble leave such a firm imprint on the evolution of American comedy.
This 37-DVD set features the complete six season series.
Number of DVDs: 37
Number of Episodes: 140
Running Time: 330 min approx
Aspect Ratio: Full Screen
NOTES: This is a fan-made DVD set. Not a studio release. The pictures shown are screenshots from the DVD.
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