Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour"
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Now in paperback, a rollicking history of the rise and fall of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour —“A stunningly alive portrait of the 1960s and of two very different men who ‘refused to shut up’ and thereby made TV history” (People).
A dramatic behind-the-scenes look at the rise and fall of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour—the provocative, politically charged program that shocked the censors, outraged the White House, and forever changed the face of television.
Decades before The Daily Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour proved there was a place on television for no-holds-barred political comedy with a decidedly antiauthoritarian point of view. Censorship battles, mind-blowing musical performances, and unforgettable sketches defined the show and its era. In this compelling history, veteran entertainment journalist David Bianculli draws on decades worth of original research, including extensive interviews with Tom and Dick Smothers and dozens of other key players, to tell the fascinating story of the show’s three-year network run—and the cultural impact that’s still being felt today.
“objectionable material” seems laughably tame and tamely laughable. (Describing sexual curiosity as perfectly natural, Jackie Mason says, “I never see a kid play accountant. Even the kids who want to be lawyers play doctor.”) And while the musical selections and performances by Joan Baez presented no problems (her version of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” sung with Tom and Dick, was especially lovely), the introductions did. After Dick cited Joan Baez’s early appearances at the Newport Folk
how big Norman Lear became? Well, the Smothers could have had four hours of television on, and I think they would have used those hours to such a good end. It just would have been so good because Tommy really enjoyed finding new and different people, and new ideas.” “I always find gold in people that other people miss,” Tom said. “You know what I’m saying?” He disagrees, though, that continuing to produce a string of shows as the 1960s ended would have been that good an idea. “Thank God we were
160, 208, 321 as writer for Summer Show, 181, 183–84, 185–86, 188–89 Mason, Jackie, 252, 274, 275, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281–82, 283, 297, 301, 302–3 May, Elaine, 99–106, 107–8, 113–14, 139, 257, 258 media: Agnew’s attacks on, 326 and cancellation of Comedy Hour, 310–11, 314–15 and CBS–Comedy Hour censorship issues, 105–6, 139, 166, 167, 196, 205 Nixon’s targeting of, 279, 315 and politicians, 216 reactions to Comedy Hour by, 65, 91, 92–93, 125–26 and Seeger as Comedy Hour guest, 139,
ISBN 978-1-4391-0953-3 (ebook) Permissions on page 383. To Tom and Dick Smothers, for their trust, their cooperation, and especially their patience Contents Introduction Chapter 1. The Birth of the Smothers Brothers (and the Smothers Sister) Chapter 2. The Smothers Brothers—All Three of Them—Take the Stage Chapter 3. Tom and Dick Shoot for Paar Chapter 4. The Smothers Brothers, on the Record Chapter 5. “High Noon on the Ponderosa” Chapter 6. Revolution in a Shoe Box Chapter
7. And So It Begins: The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour Chapter 8. Testing the CBS Censors—the First Encounters Chapter 9. From Hit Status to Elaine May Not Chapter 10. Becoming More Creative, and More Substantive Chapter 11. Homegrown Talent: Pat Paulsen, Leigh French, Mason Williams Chapter 12. Season Two: Breaking the Blacklist of Pete Seeger Chapter 13. The Who Explodes Chapter 14. The Generation Gap Widens, Even on TV Chapter 15. Wading Back into “The Big Muddy” Chapter 16.