You don’t hear hilarious catch-lines like, “Sock it to me,” anymore. Nor will you hear “You bet your sweet bippy” or “Vedddy interesting.” Time-honored …
You don’t hear hilarious catch-lines like, “Sock it to me,” anymore. Nor will you hear “You bet your sweet bippy” or “Vedddy interesting.” Time-honored classics indeed, so God only knows why Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In has never been picked up for syndication.
Laugh-In was on NBC every Monday night at 9 o’clock, when I could be found transfixed and giggling on the couch where nothing was gonna make me get up and walk to the black-and-white TV to change that channel. Wild horses couldn’t have dragged me away. If you’re not familiar with this sacred classic, get your Google on pronto.
It was a hilarious, frenetic menagerie of one-liners and knee-slapping sight gags, hosted by the pipe-smoking Dan Rowan and his zany sidekick, Dick Martin. And the occasional bikinied dancer at blurring speed that made a teenage boy wish a remote control with freeze-frame would be invented.
R&M was no flash-in-the-pan, dog and pony show, either. There were 140 episodes running from ’68 to ’73 Never mind that the Vietnam War was raging, Charlie Manson had carved an X in his forehead, and somebody or other walked on the moon … BORING! I just wanted to hear Judy Carne say, “Sock it to me” before getting doused with a bucket of water.
And don’t think America wasn’t watching when President Dick Nixon popped up during a dizzying flurry of laughs and deadpanned, “Sock it to me?” Heck, John Wayne himself found himself being hit on by a homely lady with a hairnet, Ruth Buzzi, and his true grit was nowhere to be seen, as he couldn’t keep a straight face and giggled like a schoolgirl.
That same hunched-over sourpuss with orthopedic stockings was the same one who would smack the dirty old man on a tricycle over the head with her purse every time he made an inappropriate advance. And bear in mind, all this was before inappropriate advances were popular.
The little pervert would pedal up to her and each time mutter something leading like, “Hmm, do you believe in the hereafter?” Buzzi growled, “Well, of course I do,” and he (Arte Johnson) mumbled, “Hmmm, then you know what I’m here after.” SMACK! The butter-face would knock him right off his tricycle with her big purse.
Then the little, bespectacled German guy in a helmet smoking a cigarette might pop out of the bushes say between cigarette puffs, “Vedddy intereshting. But shtupid.” You can’t put a price tag on that kind of loveable shtick.
On a Time Life commercial for a collection of vintage Laugh-In episodes, I was reminded of our national treasure Goldie Hawn — funny and sexy with a terminal giggle more infectious than a mother’s lullaby. Like all that wasn’t enough, she gave us gorgeous daughter, Kate Hudson. Now there’s an Ivory Soap, mother/daughter commercial to get a man’s attention.
Like teenagers in the ’90s in school after a Seinfeld episode, we were walking around the halls in school quipping “Sock it to me,” (often followed by a kick in the rear, “you bet your sweet bippy,” which I’m thinking of reviving, and “Here come da judge”). It was a tall order to outdo Hee-Haw and the Smothers Brothers — no slouches in their own right — but Laugh-In did so in dramatic fashion.
If you’ve never seen the show, then you’ve probably never seen Ernie Banks make a diving catch, lusted over Joey Heatherton or had a cold, frothy Moola Coola. So I’ll close with Dan Rowan’s classic line, “Say goodnight, Dick,” and Dick Martin’s classic reply, “Goodnight, Dick.”