Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (often referred to as Laugh-In) was an American sketch comedy TV program that ran from January, 1968 to March, 1973 on NBC, hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. The show was characterized by a rapid-fire series of gags and sketches, many of which conveyed sexual innuendo, or were politically charged.
The show featured Gary Owens as the on-screen announcer and permanent cast member Ruth Buzzi; long-tenured cast members included Judy Carne, Henry Gibson, Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Jo Anne Worley, Alan Sues, Lily Tomlin, Johnny Brown, Dennis Allen and Richard Dawson.
Hawn was only on for the first three seasons before being plucked to co-star in a movie. After winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in that movie, Cactus Flower, Goldie Hawn came back, and made a guest appearance in the fourth season. She began the episode as an arrogant snob of an actress; however, a bucket of water thrown at her transformed her back to her giggling dumb blonde persona that she had become famous for on the show.
In addition, each season brought us a wealth of various guest appearances, such as then Presidential Candidate Richard Nixon. Nixon even credited his appearance on the show with helping him win the election. His opponent also stated that not appearing affected his outcome as well. Other notable appearances were John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis Jr, and a veritable host of others.
Most famous were the hilarious varied sketches portions in most episodes: Sock It To Me Time, The Cocktail Party, Mod, Mod World, and The Farkel Family were just a few of the truly hilarious skits shown during the 1 hour format. One of my favorites was The Joke Wall, where the regulars and guests poke their heads out of windows in the psychedelically decorated wall or floor and exchange one-liners with Rowan and Martin.
Another huge fan favorite was New Talent Time which introduced oddball variety acts, most notable of which was musician Tiny Tim. Laugh-In writer Chris Bearde later took the “New Talent” concept and developed it into a spin-off, The Gong Show.
The show notoriously produced a huge slew of hilarious catchphrases, such as “Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls!”, “You bet your sweet bippy!”, “Blow in my ear and I’ll follow you anywhere.” and “Beautiful downtown Burbank” among others.
Laugh-In was nominated for over 30 Emmys and won 7 of those over its 6 season reign. Many of today’s actors and comedians got their start on the show, most notably Goldie Hawn and Ruth Buzzi. Additionally, they were nominated for 6 Golden Globes, winning two: one for Buzzi for Best Supporting Actress – Television in 1973, and one for Best Television Show in 1969.
In all honesty, it was the show’s pure, unapologetic irreverence that won over the masses. Laugh-In rarely held back, often pushing the envelope to get the laughs. The highly successful format was often copied, but rarely did anyone achieve the massive acclaim that Laugh-In did. The show was truly an often revered original. Tami Danielson is the main in-house blogger and Director of Operations for Pop-Daze. She was raised in California and Florida and currently resides in Oregon. Tami has written for a variety of periodicals and has provided digital marketing services for a number of artists. She can be reached at [email protected]