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The Smothers Brothers

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Mar 31, 2010
The Smothers Brothers (Feb 10, 2017)
[Yall remember these guys?]​

Tom and Dick Smothers came to CBS in 1967 not really intending to lead or support a revolution. They just got caught up in it — and they happened to have a network program, with some 30 million viewers, on which they criticized the war in Vietnam, celebrated rock 'n' roll music and satirized politics and politicians.

A lot of it came through the music and the hot new acts booked to perform on air. Over the run of the show, it was like a series of anthems from the counterculture — from Buffalo Springfield singing "For What It's Worth" to the Beatles singing "Revolution".

George Harrison of the Beatles showed up unannounced — not to sing, but to support Tom and Dick in their fight against the CBS censors. By then, the fights had become almost legendary. Tom confessed to Harrison that on American television, they didn't always get the chance to say what they wanted to say...

A skit poking fun at LBJ got the president to call CBS Chairman William Paley in the middle of the night to complain — which, in turn, led to Paley asking the show to ease up on its presidential satire. In return, Paley agreed to break the 17-year blacklist on folksinger Pete Seeger, who appeared in 1967 to sing, as part of an anti-war medley, a new song he'd written called "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," an obvious allegory about the Vietnam War and Johnson himself.
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour influenced all satirical political shows that followed, from Saturday Night Live to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and Samantha Bee. Comedy Hour also contributed one of the best political satires ever — a literal running gag in which series regular Pat Paulsen ran for the presidency.

The Comedy Hour lasted into the early months of the Nixon administration, which were prefaced by the brothers' on-air promise, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, to "lay off the jokes" toward the president-elect ... at least for a while.

On their final show, Dick read a letter he and Tom had gotten from former President Johnson. These days, President Trump responds to Saturday Night Live skits with angry tweets. Back then, Johnson, reflecting on his treatment by the Smothers Brothers, responded by writing:
"It is part of the price of leadership of this great and free nation to be the target of clever satirists. You have given the gift of laughter to our people. May we never grow so somber or self-important that we fail to appreciate the humor in our lives."
Happy anniversary, Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and thanks for everything.


I remember these guys, their deadpan comedy and some of their insane pokes at political people back when that didn't include four letter words or threats of mayhem. Ah, back in the good old days when the price of gold was $35.00 an ounce and I could go to bed with the door unlocked.



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Apr 1, 2010
A regular on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Pat Paulsen for President! His
editorials on the show....on social security, gun control, regulation of doctor's fees.