Posted by: distributorcap | March 11, 2008

News of the Future….

Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was a cultural milestones of the 1960’s and one of funniest comedy-variety shows in the history of television. The show premiered in January 1968 on NBC (Mondays 8-9P) and was an overnight phenomenon. Laugh-In was creative, irreverent, innovative and controversial for an America deeply mired in Vietnam. The program paved the way for other shows like Saturday Night Live (sketch comedy), whole networks like MTV (fast paced and quick cuts) and launched the careers of many stars. The humor was current, topical, often political, and filled with sexual innuendo – something that was not mainstream culture in 1968.

Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was the #1 show on television for 3 seasons and ran until 1973. Over the years there were many cast graduations and changes. Two of the biggest names to get their start on Laugh-In were Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin, but regulars including Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Joanne Worley and Henry Gibson also went on to do movies and television. Semi-regulars included Steve Martin, Sammy Davis, and Richard Dawson. Guest stars abounded, as everyone in Hollywood wanted to do a cameo. Richard Nixon became the first candidate running for president to appear on a variety show in a sketch when in September 1968 he did a 10-second stint saying “sock it to me.”

Sketches, repeating skits, one-liners, vaudeville-like acts, satire and memorable characters surrounded by celebrities and politicians were edited into a frenetically paced show. An entire library of gags and phrases were made famous from Laugh-In. Some of the more famous lines (and the people who became associated with it) are “sock it to me” (Judy Carne, who would then get doused with water), “very interesting” (Arte Johnson as a German soldier), “here comes the judge” (Sammy Davis), “beautiful downtown Burbank” (home of NBC studios), “look that up in your Funk & Wagnall’s” (Dick Martin), among others. Some of the regular schtick included the Cocktail Party (with a bikini-clad Goldie Hawn dancing), letters to Laugh-In, The Flying Fickle Finger Of Fate Award, Laugh-In Looks At The News, Hollywood News, The Farkle Family, and the the joke wall that closed the show. And who can forget Ruth Buzzi as the old lady in the park, Lily Tomlin as Ernestine the phone operator, Gary Owens as the announcer and Goldie Hawn as the consummate dumb blonde.

Today many people would find the humor dated and probably somewhat juvenille. That is why this show never found a permanent home in syndication. I saved the 1993 25th anniversay special and watched in again for the first time in 15 years. Some of the sketches are small gems and are worth sharing — but you have no idea how complicated it was to get it from VHS tape to a post on YouTube.

Here is a clip that just sort of amazed me……Laugh-In of 1969 looks at News of the future – 20 years ahead, with some dead-on accuracy…(you may need to turn up the audio AND it is slightly out-of-sync). And Goldie Hawn was a real charmer.


  1. Oh, I loved that show! It looked like it was so much fun to do and I have to wonder how much pot they were smoking before they aired. My favorite performer was Lily Tomlin. Oh…I miss those days. Thanks for this and the video was great!

  2. Considering I was 5 when the show first aired, I can guarantee you that alot of the jokes were just too far over my head. And considering that I was raised in a pretty strict Roman Catholic 1 TV household, and being the youngest of six boys, it should be no wonder that I rarely got to watch this show. Now Bugs Bunny after school on Channel 5 in NYC…well that was the shizazz.

  3. Yikes! I’m sure that they found both ideas very far fetched at the time. My older sib was born in 53, so she always tuned in and I watched.

  4. We used to beg to get to watch Laugh-In with our parents. When they wouldn’t give in, we would sneak to the end of the hallway and listen in and laugh at the jokes we got.I loved Lily Tomlin, too. Ernestine and Edith Ann!

  5. I remember watching that in syndication – feel old yet, dcap? ha! – and it was pretty damn comical. I don’t even know if anyone shows it on the tube these days. TV Land maybe?

  6. I so loved Laugh In. One of my coolest life experiences was meeting April Conforti when I was 14. Who was April Conforti? She was the contortionist who appeared all twisted up in between segments!That was great- and wow, scarily dead on.

  7. Ack! They guessed Reagan as president! I was just a little kid when “Laugh In” was on.

  8. Were did all these children come from? I’m feeling mighty old after reading these comments. Randal and Spartacus, Dr. Zaius, what are you doing up so late? Go to bed!!!

  9. Thank you so much for making me feel like a Dinosour.:) I too remember when it first came on. It was so cutting edge then! I watched that clip three times. A Young Goldie Hawn…..sigh!:)

  10. awesome

  11. Boy, after Spitzer, I needed that.

  12. Oh no, I didn’t mean that I…you know…did spitzer, I meant the news the past two days.heehee

  13. Joanne Worley was the best. I didn’t see the show when it originally aired, but I saw re-runs. I’d love to play poker with Joanne Worley. I also liked Lily Tomlin’s Suzy Sorority Of The Silent Majority.. hahaha Good stuff.

  14. I LOVE that show. Like Spartacus and Dcup, I wasn’t allowed to watch it but I managed to sneak a few minutes here and there, and Lily Tomlin (especially Ernestine) was my favorite. “Look that up in your Funk and Wagnall’s” is still funny as far as I’m concernted, but no one younger than 35 or so would get it, I guess.

  15. I used to watch Laugh-In when I was 13, 14, 15 and they were showing it on Nick at Nite.The scariest part is the way the audience laughs at the idea of Ronald Reagan being president.

  16. I watched Laugh-In as a kid too, and though some of it was a little over my head (and age level), I enjoyed it a lot. Joanne Worley was my favorite too.

  17. Sock it to me?

  18. I has dinner with Lily Tomlin and her partner Jane Wagner at Ann Richard’s wake in Austin.Lily is quiet, poised and charming. Jane is the boss of them.

  19. I loved Laugh-In. I was in high school and watched it faithfully. I can’t believe how accurate the News of the Future was!

  20. I don’t remember it well but the parts I do remember made me laugh and laugh. Am I in?

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