Academic journal article Journalism History

"From Beautiful Downtown Burbank": A Critical History of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, 1968-1973

Academic journal article Journalism History

"From Beautiful Downtown Burbank": A Critical History of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, 1968-1973

Article excerpt

Erickson, Hal. "From Beautiful Downtown Burbank": A Critical History of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, 1968-1973. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2000. 333 pp. $45.

Now really? A scholarly work on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In"? Oh, why not?

There's no doubt that the show was a breakthrough for television when it appeared in 1968. It incorporated elements that earlier television programs by Steve Allen and Ernie Kovacs had introduced, but "Laugh-In" was the show that put it all together. Kovacs had been among the first comedians to understand and exploit the possibilities of broadcastingand he was given credit by the "Laugh-In" producers for his pioneering. But his skits were often too cerebral and, therefore, above the heads of much of the audience. "Laugh-In" was quick and clever, but it seemed perfectly in tune with its audience.

This book, by Hal Erickson, examines the lives and careers of hosts Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, along with co-creators George Schlatter, Paul Keyes, and Digby Wolfe. The tussle over who gets credit for the "LaughIn" concept takes up a goodly amount of space. The argument has never been settled. Assembling the cast that included Goldie Hawn, Lily Tomlin, Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson and the others was a coup, and the book also offers mini-biographies of those participants as well. …

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