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.
as Tom Smothers and Robert Wood were fighting like pit bulls over which of them had the right to dictate content. If it wasn’t a perfect storm, it was a perfect nightmare. That weekend, the postponed Joan Baez–Jackie Mason show, already seen in Canada, finally was shown by CBS to viewers in the United States. This time, the calls logged by the CBS switchboard reflected a virtual tie: There were 125 calls against Joan Baez, but 97 calls in protest of the choppy censoring of her remarks, and
Donald Farish; dean Lorin Arnold; committee members (Ned Eckhardt, Joseph Bierman, and Keith Brand); even coteachers Mike Donovan and George Back, who allowed me to miss a class or two; and Mary Gifford, whose office-management skills kept me afloat. On my website, www.tvworthwatching.com, Diane Werts took over editing duties to help me during my final crunch. It worked; so did she. Specialized research for this book was aided by Barbara Schmidt, who located several unpublished theses on the
relatives. Those children included not only Tom and Dick, but a sibling who may be a surprise even to fervent Smothers brothers fans: younger sister Sherry. And it’s Sherry, after all these years, who reveals another surprising fact about the Smothers family history: there really was a pet chicken. First genealogy, then poultry. Thomas Bolyn Smothers Jr., father of Tom, Dick, and Sherry, was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1908. He graduated from West Point in the class of 1929,
managers. Tom, Lafferty said, had threatened to hold the master tape hostage and not return it “until the very last minute” in hopes that CBS would accept the program as is, with the “Carnival” number intact. Lafferty said CBS wouldn’t change its position, but Tom argued that in the past, CBS already had, many times. “It is my opinion that we have two courses opened to us,” Lafferty wired Dann. “First, we capitulate and run the Belafonte number, and thus will never again have any real control
Comedy Hour opened with a taped piece featuring a montage of headlines of global student unrest. Writer Murray Roman was shown wearing a different military or police uniform in each, playing authority figures from Mexico, France, Japan, and Russia—and, finally, from the United States, where headlines told of the uprising at Columbia University earlier that month. In every guise, in every accent, Murray blamed the problems on “outside agitators.” Then, to cap off the skit, Tom and Dick showed up