You Can’t Say That

Controversy was never funnier. Many of you may never have heard of them, but the Smothers Brothers were so darn funny!!! They poked fun at everything and everyone. Especially the president which at the time was the 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson who wrote a letter to the brothers. (Above near the top) That letter from President Johnson was verified on snopes.com. And check this out: Tommy Smothers does a dead-on imitation of Johnny Carson (Another guy many of you may never have heard of) on Feb 20, 1992.   

Free speech. One of our American rights we cherish and challenges us to protect every today.  Over 50 years ago, television writers and producers at CBS were up against a tough adversary – a successful western show that had a secure, nationwide audience.  At that time, westerns dominated television, with shows like “Gunsmoke”, “Have Gun Will Travel”, “The Rifleman” and “Wagon Train”.  The number one show on TV in the mid 60’s was “Bonanza”, another western that ran on rival NBC.  Trying to pull away viewers – talk about a PIA (pain in the @%$) Job! – CBS, after many flops, took a chance on two “hip” and “edgy” young stars, brothers actually, to appeal to the under-30 generation. Right smack in the middle of the civil rights movement, the hippie revolution, the war, political upheaval and major shifts in music, the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour debuted on this day in 1967 and took the country by storm – later becoming what some consider the most controversial show in TV history.  Starring Tommy and Dick, two folk singing brothers (‘mom always liked you best”), with amazing timing and childlike banter, they pushed the envelope with the help of some soon-to-be star writers and comedians and broke the dominance of Big Hoss and Little John.  Enjoy.  And thanks to dailykos.com, Wikipedia and mtsu.edu for the info and YouTube for the amazing videos. (be sure to watch the videos – classics!)

  1. The Smothers Brothers are Thomas (“Tom” – born February 2, 1937) and Richard (“Dick” – born November 20, 1939), American folk singers, musicians and comedians. The brothers’ trademark double act was performing folk songs (Tommy on acoustic guitar, Dick on string bass), which usually led to arguments between the siblings. Tommy’s signature line was “Mom always liked you best”.
  2. Their own television variety show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, became one of the most controversial American TV programs of the Vietnam War era. Despite popular success, the brothers’ penchant for material that was critical of the political mainstream and sympathetic to the emerging counterculture led to their firing by the CBS network in 1969. One show was left unaired.
  3. After a brief time in a folk group called the Casual Quintet, the brothers made their first professional appearance as a duo in February 1959 at The Purple Onion in San Francisco. They were a popular act in clubs and released several successful top 40 albums for Mercury Records, the most successful being Curb Your Tongue, Knave! in 1964. – Their first national television appearance was on The Jack Paar Show on January 28, 1961.  On Sunday night, October 4, 1963 the Smothers Brothers made an appearance on the CBS variety series The Judy Garland Show which also showcased Barbra Streisand. Tom and Dick inherited Garland’s time slot when their own variety series began in early 1967.
  4. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour started out as only a slightly “hip” version of the typical comedy-variety show of its era, but rapidly evolved into a show that extended the boundaries of what was considered permissible in television satire at that time.  While the Smothers themselves were at the forefront of these efforts, credit also goes to the roster of writers and regular performers they brought to the show, including Steve Martin, Don Novello, Rob Reiner, Presidential candidate Pat Paulsen, Bob Einstein, Albert Brooks, and resident hippie Leigh French.  Enjoy a Pat Paulson editorial.
  5. The series showcased new musical artists to whom other comedy-variety shows rarely gave airtime, due to the nature of their music or their political affiliations.  Stars included George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Joan Baez, Buffalo Springfield, Cass Elliot, Harry Belafonte, Cream, Donovan, The Doors, Glen Campbell, Janis Ian, Jefferson Airplane, The Happenings, Peter, Paul and Mary, Spanky and Our Gang, Steppenwolf, Simon and Garfunkel, The Hollies, The Who and even Pete Seeger were showcased on the show, despite the advertiser-sensitive nature of their music.
  6. In 1968, the show broadcast in successive weeks “music videos” (not called that at the time) for The Beatles’ popular songs “Hey Jude” and “Revolution”. Before a rowdy crowd at the Los Angeles Forum, Jimi Hendrix dedicated “I Don’t Live Today” to the Smothers Brothers, as heard on The Jimi Hendrix Box Set.
  7. The performance by The Who in 1967 was another defining moment in the series; as the group often did during that period, The Who destroyed their instruments at the conclusion of their performance of “My Generation”, with the usual addition of mild explosives for light pyrotechnic effect. The piece would end with guitarist Pete Townshend grabbing Tommy’s guitar and smashing it. On the Smothers Brothers show that night a small amount of explosive was put into the small cannon that Keith Moon kept in his bass drum. But it did not go off during the rehearsal. Unbeknownst to Moon, a stagehand had added another explosive before the taping, and later Moon added another charge so that now there were three explosive charges in the cannon instead of one.  When Moon detonated it, the explosion was so intense that a piece of cymbal shrapnel cut into Moon’s arm; Moon is heard moaning in pain toward the end of the piece. Townshend, who had been in front of Moon’s drums at the time, had his hair singed by the blast; he is seen putting out sparks in his hair before finishing the sketch with a visibly shocked Tommy Smothers. The blast allegedly contributed heavily to Townshend’s long-term hearing loss.
  8. With its focus having evolved toward a more youth-oriented one, the show became both popular and controversial. Three specific targets of satire — racism, the President of the United States, and the Vietnam War— wound up defining the show’s content for the remainder of its run, eventually leading to its demise.
  9. The brothers soon found themselves in regular conflict with CBS’s network censors. At the start of the 1968/69 season, the network ordered that the Smothers deliver their shows finished and ready to air ten days before airdate so that the censors could edit the shows as necessary. In the season premiere, CBS deleted the entire segment of Belafonte singing “Lord, Don’t Stop the Carnival” against a backdrop of the havoc during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, along with two lines from a satire of their main competitor, Bonanza. As the year progressed, battles over content continued, including a David Steinberg sermon about Moses and the Burning Bush.
  10. With some local stations making their own deletions of controversial skits or comments, the continuing problems over the show came to a head after CBS broadcast a rerun on March 9, 1969. The network explained the decision by stating that because that week’s episode did not arrive in time to be previewed, it would not be shown. In that program, Joan Baez paid tribute to her then-husband, David Harris, who was entering jail after refusing military service, while comedian Jackie Mason made a joke about children “playing doctor”. When the show finally did air, two months later, the network allowed Baez to state that her husband was in prison but edited out the reason.
  11. After three seasons, network CEO and President William S. Paley abruptly canceled the show on April 4, 1969. The reason given by CBS was the Smothers refusal to meet the pre-air delivery dates as specified by the network in order to accommodate review by the censors. This cancellation led the brothers to file a successful breach of contract suit against the network. Despite this cancellation, the show went on to win the Emmy Award that year for best writing.
  12. The Smothers Brothers starred in several other television and Broadway shows, but with moderate success.  In 1988, Tom and Dick reunited with CBS for a special celebrating the 20th anniversary of their variety show.  The brothers used the special to pay tribute to their network and also poke fun at it for cancelling them years earlier. The success of the special led to The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1988–1989).  This show began production during a 1988 Writers Guild of America strike as the WGA had agreed to settle with the show’s producer and grant the show an exemption from the strike and allow writers to go back to work for the series.
  13. The brothers have worked independently as well; Dick has appeared as an actor in films, including a rare dramatic role as a Nevada state senator in Martin Scorsese’s Casino. Tom appeared in the 2005 made-for-television movie Once Upon a Mattress.
  14. After more than 51 years of touring, the Smothers Brothers officially announced their retirement from touring during their final performance at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sunday May 16, 2010. The affair was kept low key with some family members and friends in attendance.

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Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
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