Aired: NBC, 1968-1973
Unlike other landmark comedy variety series, most notably Saturday Night Live, It's impossible to talk about Laugh-In without viewing it through the lens of its times, the late 1960s and early '70s. On Laugh-In, there were pratfalls galore, zany recurring sketches and a drumbeat of one-liners, all of it pitched to a new zeitgeist. The whole thing suggested a cocktail party where the open bar had been humming for hours, with Dan Rowan and Dick Martin your lubricated hosts. Producer George Schlatter has credited Digby Wolfe, who in his native England had written for the BBC's satire That Was The Week That Was, as the man who not only came up with the name for the show but served as the its de facto minister of comedy. Among those who passed through as writers were Lorne Michaels, a Canadian transplant testing out his comedy chops with then-partner Hart Pomerantz.
Bob De Vinney