Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of SMCH

2009, 2010 Touchstone edition
David Bianculli
Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Original price $24.99, purchase price $9.60
Hardcover in good condition

A fascinating account of a pivotal television program, the narrative marred by Bianculli's tendency towards redundancy.  (Some information and anecdotes are given not just twice but thrice or more!)  Unlike Saturday Night Live, this isn't a show I watched often, even in the years after it originally aired (1967 to '69, so I was a baby when it got cancelled).  I am going to get the DVDs from the library sometime though, because I am curious about the program, and watching bits and pieces on YouTube isn't enough.  (I think I also watched the 2002 documentary Smothered, but it's been a long while.)

Bianculli had the full support and cooperation of not only the Smothers Brothers but much of their staff and admirers, as well as some of the censors that they (mostly Tommy) battled with.  This enables Bianculli to go into detail on several of the episodes, including ones that didn't air in part or in full.  He puts the show in the context of its time, both what else was on television and what was happening in the U.S.  He also looks at the show's legacy, including on The Daily Show.  Yes, although this book is almost five years old by now, it feels a lot more contemporary than anything I've reviewed so far.  (There's also what I think is the first reference to Obama in my book collection.)  Bianculli goes rather quickly through the brothers' post-show career, but it was interesting to get another take on John Lennon heckling Tommy.  (Apparently Lorne Michaels and Lily Tomlin were there that night as well.)

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