In 1962, Richard Nixon quit politics after losing the California governor's race. His poor showing in the 1960 presidential election is often blamed on the televised debates that made John Kennedy look more presidential. So Nixon laid low for a few years and hung around with comedy writer Paul Keyes, who became his media consultant. In 1968, Nixon ran for president again, against Vice-president Hubert Humphrey. Neither candidate appealed to the young voters left behind when candidate Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.
Then came what Nixon later characterized as a godsend: the series premiere of “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” network television’s flower-powered precursor to sketch comedy shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “SCTV.” (Oh, BTW, here’s my favorite “SCTV” sketch. Watch if you want.) While “Laugh-In” purported itself to be the hippy dippy countercultural hub Monday nights on NBC, it was only posturing as some kind of groovy thing. After all, its head writer was a staunch conservative — one you already know, and one who was able to score airtime with the Republican presidential nominee.
Against his numerous advisers’ wishes, 55-year old Richard Nixon was convinced by Keyes to appear on the series premiere of “Laugh-In,” Monday, September 16, 1968. (The show was picked up for a full season after a one-off special in September 1967.)
That appearance on Laugh-In is often credited with giving Nixon the White House in 1968. Read how it came about, how difficult the filming was, and the fallout it created, at Death and Taxes. Link
My family loved the Carol Burnett Show. Also Fiip Wilson, Red Skelton, The Smothers Brothers, Johny Carson ...lotta memories there.
Having said this, I have always been dismissive and annoyed by Laugh-In, my first memory having seen it as a re-run in, like, 1975, when I was four/five years-old. Thought it was crap, but still sometimes tolerated it when friends watched it. The show made me frelling dislike Goldie Hawn for most of my childhood and a large part of my adolescence. Until I saw her in some Chevy Chase flick, but that wasn't enuf to make me rent Laugh-In (on VHS) at Flicks 'n' Picks. (plus, my parents didn't much like it - our fam humour was more Carol Burnett Show (so awesome.)
But Miss Cellania, your post has inspired me to take a second look at Laugh-In. Off to the Terrents! (and many thanks for another great post!)