EPISODE 3 in the story of the “Laugh In”
A historic television show as seen through the wide open eyes of a young Aussie/Brit/Canuck comedy writer and sometime performer.
To catch up please read the 2 previous blogs “Laugh In” and “More Laughs”
A little back story:” This ex patriot Aussie boy working in Canada had the good fortune to be given a writing assignment at the CBC in 1967. This gig had connected him with Noel Harrison, the son of Rex and a new super star with his hit NBC spin-off show from “The Man From Uncle.”..”The Girl from Uncle!”…The musical special was a feast of the major mid 60’s rock and pop elite. The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Biaz, Diane Warwick, Sergio Mendes and Eric Anderson. Cool line up !
Noel and I hit it off big time and when he went back to Hollywood Noel told the Morris Office he wanted to put me on the writing staff of his first NBC special.
So while working on this special with Noel the Morris office set up the momentous meeting with George Schlatter. The “LAUGH IN” offices were opposite the The Smoke House restaurant, a favorite Burbank hang out, which was also opposite the Warner Brothers Studios.
This was all intimidating show biz history for sure, but growing up in the tough non compromising, no bullshit, ‘walk in where angels fear to tread’ Australian way of life gave one a protective veneer against twittering timidity.
The greeting from the “LAUGH IN’ staff was warm and you had that feeling of supreme confidence about all of them. Things were hot and ready to burst.
I was ushered into George’s office and there he was!
GEORGE exuded importance. He also looked like he could punch your lights out if you were not funny. He was, and still is, an imposing bluff figure but with a touch of Salvador Dali in his eyes.
“We’ve heard a lot about you” he said sizing me up.
“Some of it good but it seems you’re a crazy little bastard”.
So this was my cutting edge of time moment where all the comedy sense of the ridiculous and the years of studying Chaplin, Keaton, Turpin, Tati, Kaye, Lewis, Hope and Lennie Bruce culminated in my first words to George.
“I’m so sorry George …but I can’t work for you.!”
George looked a little strange .. “What?”
“It’s that purple shirt…I hate purple..and you’re wearing stupid purple shirt?”
I turned on my heels and walked out of his office slamming the door hard….I started out across the parking lot and walked rapidly towards the Warner Brothers studios. I was muttering and waving my arms about and waiting for GEORGE to appear at his office entrance begging me to please come back !
He did!…laughing his ass off of course…”You crazy Mother fucker!!”
From that moment on a great comedy brotherhood was “cemented by the terminally demented.”
TOMORROW: THE FIRST DAY ON THE JOB…