'Laugh-In's Catchphrase Comedy Socked It To The '60s
Jo Anne Worley of 'Laugh-In' -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
With all the weird and wonderful things happening in the late'60s, America needed a new kind of comedy to help us figure it out. That show was Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In a catchphrase-riddled hour of sketch comedy, one-liners and sight gags that mixed silliness with mild social or political commentary. The show took its name from the '60s phenomena of sit-ins and love-ins, and its hip characters in outrageous costumes or body paint delivered lines that are still with us, including "Sock it to me," "Look it up in your Funk & Wagnall's," "You bet your sweet bippy," "Very interesting," "Here come da judge," and many more.
Laugh-In 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 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!
The Joke Wall
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 or politically charged. It was definitely a sign that the time were changing!
You Want Catchphrases? They Got Catchphrases
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!
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!
The Stars And Guest Stars Of 'Laugh-In'
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.
Say Goodnight, 'Laugh-In'
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!
Tags: Goldie Hawn | Jo Anne Worley | Judy Carne | Laugh-In | Ruth Buzzi | TV In The 1960s | TV In The 1970s | Lily Tomlin
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