Before SNL, The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, there was Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in, one of the most revolutionary television shows of all time. From 1968-1973, Laugh-in frequently was seen by 50 million viewers, capturing the zeitgeist of the era with its anarchic energy and pop aesthetic. Combining the blackout comedy of the vaudeville tradition with a 1960s-style “Happening,” psychedelic costumes, graphics, graffiti, outrageous characters and a new political awareness, Laugh-in became one of the most popular shows in history.
Next week, Netflix will stream a special celebrating and paying tribute to 50 years of Laugh-in. Back in 1968 when Laugh-In began, the country had a split Congress, an unpopular president, protests in the streets, abortion being debated, military spending out of control, and so on and so on. Laugh-in was able to do silly next to political next to controversial and it was done with such speed that there wasn’t much time for it to sink in and much of it flew by the censors. Can you imagine such a show on network television today? Sammy Davis Jr doing a skit with 4 men dressed in KKK robes?
Netflix is giving us a glimpse of what that might look at this week as Hollywood’s finest pay tribute to Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In for an uncensored and unforgettable celebration at The Dolby Theater. The special is filled with an elite lineup of talent paying homage to the iconic show and its Director/Producer George Schlatter, with modern takes on timeless moments, including Lily Tomlin’s revival of her seminal Edith Ann and Ernestine characters. In addition to comedy legend and Laugh-In original cast member, Lily Tomlin, the celebrated lineup of stars include: Ruth Buzzi, Billy Crystal, Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish, Chelsea Handler, Neil Patrick Harris, Taye Diggs, Michael Douglas, Jay Leno, Rita Moreno, Rita Wilson, JoAnne Worley, Maria Bamford, Margaret Cho, Ron Funches, Nikki Glaser, Lisa Ann Walter, Mary McCormack, Bobby Moynihan, Cheri Oteri, Rob Riggle, Jeff Ross, J.B. Smoove, Tony Hale, Jon Lovitz, Natasha Leggero, Kenya Barris, Michael Rapaport, Jameela Jamil and more.
Still Laugh-In debuts Tuesday May 14 on Neflix.