Sock it to Me

Dan Rowan (left) and Dick Martin. Hosts of Laugh-In
Rowan and Martins Laugh-in

NBC's hit 1960s show Laugh In, hosted by Dick Martin and Dan Rowan, began life as a one-off comedy special which aired on US television on September 9, 1967 but proved to be such a raving success it was brought back a year later as a prime-time Monday night comedy series which ran until 1973.

Pure 60s. Roan and Martin's Laugh-In
"Ins" were very in the 60s; there were love-ins, sit-ins, be-ins ... the word in was in and Laugh-In exploited that free-wheeling hippy philosophy by at once parodying and embracing it.

Often cited as having its roots in burlesque, the Laugh-In formula was quick and pithy and  always introduced by the casual, laid back Rowan and Martin doing their shtick. Features included  recurring sketches, a 'joke wall', where various members of the cast would open a pair of doors and say something amusing, if predictable; pre-taped regular segments and a live-to-tape 'mod-party' back-drop where the regulars and guests would quip between groovy dance moves. Laugh-in boasted some big name guest appearances and many of the oft repeated catch phrases from the show became popular buzzwords - such as verrry interesting, sock it to me and is that a chicken joke?

While screwball, mayhem-inspired sketch comedy had already been popularised by The Goons on radio in the UK a decade earlier, the nonsense humour format was revolutionary by US TV standards and reflected a scewed but highly relevant mirror image of the cultural memes of the day. It was silly and it was modern...Goldie Hawn wore bikinis and body slogans after all. Audiences responded to the hipness and irreverence and the show was a great vehicle for performers, helping to  launch the careers of several of its regulars, including Goldie Hawn (who played the classic dumb blonde) and Lily Tomlin.

60s Innovation
Goldie Hawn, a popular regular on Laugh-In
On the whole, Laugh-In presented a less sophisticated version of humour than many of its British TV counterparts from the same decade...and in truth the jokes don't hold up that well, though the personalities are still appealing.  Shows like The Frost Report, That was the Week that Was, Not only but Also and Monty Pythons Flying Circus( which arrived on British TV a year after L-in) tended to concentrate on biting political, intellectual and social satire and class distinctions via more extended sketches, whereas Laugh-In relied more on fast-paced site-gags, slapstick and repetative one-liners, though certainly, it too, was innovative and often politically charged and most

The 1960s in general, broke new ground in lampooning the establishment and rattling the status quo cage. Situation comedy which upheld traditional values and Mom's apple pie had to give away some ground to the  new wave of irreverent comedy.
Jo AnneWorley in madcap mode