In 1968 this young writer saw his name on the #1 and # 2 highest rated shows in the country. “Singer Presents Elvis Presley” and “Laugh In.”
What a twist of fate that we’re telling a story of “Laugh In’s”origins on Elvis’ 79th birthday. If ever a dream came true this Hollywood story would be hard to beat.
When we left you yesterday I was still working at the CBC in Canada and had realized that the smash hit NBC “LAUGH IN” special contained many original sight gag jokes I had written for a mega-hit Aussie variety show called “Revue 61.” a few years before
The Brit host of that Aussie show has taken the material and given it to the “LAUGH IN” producers probably thinking I had been eaten by a Wombat.
My director friend at the CBC had called his buddy Dan Rowan and told him the story with the caveat that the writer didn’t want to start off on a negative if possible We decided to say that the host guy and I had “worked on the gags together back in the day.”
Dan Rowan was a very smart gentle man and he found a subtle and positive way to let both the executive producer George Schlatter and the material thief know a fact of life.
Not only had the little Aussie writer not been eaten by a Marsupial but he was alive and had a long running late night hit show in Canada.
“Nightcap” was its name and it was a show that strangely resembled “LAUGH IN” and had been on the air on the CBC for 4 years.
Oh! and by the way the writer guy will be in the US shortly as he has just signed with the Morris Office and he’s doing an NBC comedy and variety special starring Noel Harrison, Cher, Don Adams, and this great new band “The Byrds”.
So the phone rings at 2 in the morning in Toronto.
It’s the smooth talking Brit guy isn’t it?
The plan worked…
“Hey matey” he says trying to sound semi-Australian..”So we’ve found you… George wants to meet you to see if you’d be interested in a job on the ‘Laugh In’ writing staff.” I felt sorry for the guy as we had had good times together…but stealing comedy material means being somewhat devoid of basic talent and morals. He and I knew that I would never mention this to anyone who counted.
To the Morris Office I was suddenly a walking Styrofoam dollar sign. They booked me on the Merv Griffin show to talk about the Noel Harrison show. A strange experience…
They set up a meeting with George when we would be next in Burbank.
While I was in New York I went to an Oyster bar near the Morris office and had a dozen oysters..I found a pearl in one of the oysters. I didn’t need a psychic to tell me this was a good omen. I left a good tip…
My first meeting with George and my first day on the job at “Laugh In!”
But just a little preview …NBC would be a wonderful creative playground for the next 2 exciting super star filled crazy years.