An unprecedented 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. In this first-ever all-access history of the show, veteran entertainment journalist David Bianculli tells the fascinating story of its three-year network run -- and the cultural impact that's still being felt today.
Before it was suddenly removed from the CBS lineup (reportedly under pressure from the Nixon administration), The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was a ratings powerhouse. It helped launch the careers of comedy legends such as Steve Martin and Rob Reiner, featured groundbreaking musical acts like the Beatles and the Who, and served as a cultural touchstone for the antiwar movement of the late 1960s.
Drawing on extensive original interviews with Tom and Dick Smothers and dozens of other key players -- as well as more than a decade's worth of original research -- Dangerously Funny brings readers behind the scenes for all the battles over censorship, mind-blowing musical performances, and unforgettable sketches that defined the show and its era.
David Bianculli delves deep into this never-told story, to find out what really happened and to reveal why this show remains so significant to this day.
Tom and Dick Smothers had confrontations with CBS censors when they did their satirical television series from 1967 to 1969. To write this authoritative and entertaining examination of a comedic cornerstone, TV critic Bianculli (Teleliteracy) interviewed scores of producers and performers. He reveals what went on behind the cameras and also probes "the generational, artistic, and moral duels being fought in the '60s." He opens with the childhood of the brothers (and sister) when their father became a WWII POW fatality. After high school and college bands, the brothers rode the folk music wave into San Francisco's Purple Onion, switched to comedy at Aspen, and recorded their debut comedy album in 1960, exploding into fame on Jack Paar's Tonight show. After the failure of their 1965 1966 CBS sitcom, they went full throttle when their variety series, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, began taping in 1967, pushing boundaries "musically, comically, satirically, politically" and courting controversy. They strove for topicality while CBS scrambled to avoid it: "For CBS, almost every mention of religion, sex, drugs, politics, and war was anathema." Reviewing each episode, entire sketches and individual gag lines, the book probes internal battles, with Tom Smothers "fighting censors, executives, affiliates, and increasingly his own managers and staff members." Documenting each event that led to the show's cancellation, he concludes this entertaining and well-researched bio with the duo's huge influence on "today's TV troublemakers and iconoclasts."
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