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Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In – Sock it to me! 

Entertainment | October 10, 2017

Source: Getty Images

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was a comedy television show that aired on NBC from 1968-1973. The show first aired as a television special in 1967 but was such a huge hit that it turned into a regular series. Although the show mimicked the old vaudeville and burlesque humor, is spawned from the crazy humor of Chic Johnson and Ole Olsen. The title of the show was a word play on the sit-ins and love-ins that had become rampant with the 1960’s civil rights and antiwar demonstrations of the hippie counterculture. The show’s hosts were Dan Rowan and Dick Martin; Rowan being portrayed as the smarter of the two and Martin as the dumb one. Their sensational comedic ability and undeniable chemistry absolutely made the show the hit that it was; although the show boasted a stellar cast!

Each week, Laugh-In opened with Rowan and Martin engaged in a short, funny, back and forth dialog, after which, Rowan would say, “Come on, Dick, let’s go to the party.” And, a party it was! Laugh-In followed basically the same format each week, depicting recurring sketches with hysterical characters and rapid-fire jokes with a go-go themed dance party as the backdrop. Also included in the show was the infamous joke wall where characters would pop in and out of little doors with one and two-line jokes; some of which were sexually suggestive and/or politically charged. It was definitely a sign that the time were changing!   

Laugh-In appealed mainly to the younger crowd who were caught up in the changing times. Many mainstream adults were also fans; not that they would readily admit it. Audiences were enamored each week with the quick wit and psychedelic portrayal of characters and their costumes. The music was fun and current and really fit the scene. In addition, a lot of catchphrases were born out of the show, including;

  • Look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls!
  • You bet your sweet bippy!
  • One ringy-dingy...two ringy-dingies...
  • Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?
  • I just wanna swing!
  • Is that a chicken joke?
  • Sock it to me!
  • Blow in my ear and I'll follow you anywhere.
  • Now, that's a no-no!
  • Want a Walnetto?
  • Here come da Judge!
  • Verrry Interesting!
  • And that's the truth - PFFFFT!
  • He pushed me!
  • Well, I'll drink to that!
  • I did not know that!
  • That's funny, so did she!

Besides Rowan and Martin, regular cast members included announcer Gary Owens, Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne, Jo Anne Worley, Henry Gibson, Alan Sues, Lily Tomlin, Teresa Graves, Larry Hovis, Chelsea Brown, Sarah Kennedy, Jeremy Lloyd, Dave Madden, Pigmeat Markham, Pamela Rodgers, Jud Strunk, Richard Dawson, Moosie Drier, and Johnny Brown; many names you may recognize even if you have never seen the show In addition, many notable celebrities also appeared on the show, somewhat often, including, Jack Benny, Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis, Jr., Barbara Feldon, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Peter Lawford, Tiny Tim, John Wayne, Flip Wilson and Henny Youngman.

Laugh-In enjoyed epic success during its 5-year run, receiving many awards including Golden Globes and Emmys. It also rated No. 1 in television rankings for 1968 to 1970. As with the beginning of the show each week, the ending was also predictable. Rowan would turn to Martin and say, "Say good night, Dick.” Martin would reply, "good night, Dick!” It is truly a show worth remembering!  

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.