“LAUGHS 4EVER!”………..

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The last blog on this writer’s fun experiences working on “Laugh In” the 20th Century’s Emmy winning satirical show. The show  that challenged the norm and became an indelible icon of outrageous comedy for generations to come.

Still available on You Tube and DVD for reverence and reference.

The show was created from the minds of many and there has  been a long-standing dispute as to whether the actual format came from George Schlatter’s side of the creative band wagon or Dan Rowan and Dick Martin’s side of the madhouse. There were two major factions working the Mojo and depending on who you speak to is what you may choose to believe.

Paul Keyes the show’s head writer and producer was Dan and Dick’s guy and they were from the Conservative side of the American dream. Paul was a big man,  jolly, but with a cutting wit. GEORGE tended to be more central…but played a great diplomatic con game with the right side of the team.

Paul Keyes had impeccable comedy credentials which you can Google and he was also a close insider with the newly elected President Richard Nixon. He wrote Nixon’s speeches or at least edited them to give Nixon a slight edge in looking human and not TRICKY! 

I hid my most virulent socialistic views from both sides as I was mostly involved in the joke writing ,the sight gags and Arte Johnson’s  contributions. Frankly I can say this now …I didn’t go for the buckets of water being thrown on women in bikinis. I believed this was something you’d pay for if you went to VEGAS and it was just not necessary.

So one night we writers were sitting in the conference room putting the final jokes into the next show.

GEORGE as usual sat at the head of the table under a pile of jokes when the phone rang and he picked it up.

He laughed and said:

‘Yeah…yeah..and I’m Petula Clark!”

He turned to Paul Keyes and said:

“It’s for you Paul it’s some dumb ass saying he’s Nixon”

Paul picked up the phone.

‘Yes sir…Yes sir…got it… of course sir…George it is the President..he wants to speak with you!”

Any blood George had left in his head drained away as he took the phone.

The rest of the conversation went like this.

GEORGE:  “So sorry Mister President.”

NIXON: “I hear your nickname is CFG ..What does CFG stand for?”

GEORGE: (Pause)..”It stands for Crazy Funny George.”

NIXON: “No it doesn’t it stands for ‘Crazy Fucking George’ and if you ever call me Petula Clark again I’ll have your balls in a ringer” 

PHONE HANGS UP.

I was involved in the first half season and one whole season of the show.

In the middle of the first half season Allan Blye and Tommy and Dick offered me the coveted coproducing  job on “The Smothers Brothers Show” at CBS but GEORGE said no to letting me out of my contract.

He told me he saw future creative trouble ahead with the disparate sides in show and wanted to keep his side of the team together. It was quite a pill to swallow and I was pissed off at the time. 

George then profusely promised as only he can to ‘take care of me’ at the end of the first half season. “Trust me” he said.

This was Hollywood…Trust him…could I?

My agent called during the last week of the half season.

“Just got a call from the Schlatter Friendly people you and Coslough are writing an Arte Johnson pilot for NBC , you’re head writing the 1968 Grammy Awards and you’re head writing the next Dinah Shore Special with Lucille Ball, and Diana Ross making her first appearance away from the Supremes. 

Sometimes you just have to keep the faith! 

And that’s another story.

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