Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Tommy Smothers!

I've always been a big fan of Tom and Dick, the Smothers Brothers. Despite being only about 8 years old at the time, I still vaguely remember watching their original The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS, and I also recall they had a short lived variety show in the 70s, when I was in high school. But it was their revived series in the late 80s that I remember best and that brought them back to wide acclaim, with fans also turning out in droves to see them again on the concert circuit. Incidentally, that was the series that also introduced us to Tommy as "The Yo-Yo Man". I was lucky enough to see them in concert twice in the late 80s and more recently around 2000.

Interestingly, like other comedy teams before them such as Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and Martin and Lewis, it was the funny member of each team that was actually the guiding force behind their respective acts. Tommy Smothers, though he played his onstage persona as a childlike, stammering dimwit, was very much in control of the act. Fortunately, younger brother Dick seemed quite content to allow Tommy to direct the course, as Dick was more at ease with his varied offstage hobbies like auto racing and tending his vineyard. But Tommy was the more intense political animal, always doing battle with the establishment, including his sly humourous jibes at both the Johnson and the Nixon administrations in their original TV variety series.

I must admit, my enjoyment of the Smothers Brothers had less to do with their political jests and more to do with their actual song routines, in which a folk song would be started seriously but at some point would be humourously sabotaged by the mischievous Tommy. Here is a YouTube clip of one of their best routines, in a concert with The Boston Pops dating back to probably around 1990. So, here's a toast to Tommy Smothers on his birthday! (Even if Mom always liked his brother Dick best)

1 comment:

Bitter Animator said...

I must admit I don't know the Smothers Brothers. Or at least didn't before your post.

I can't help feeling you'd enjoy this classic, Mr.E, from Dudley Moore and Peter Cook -

You may well have seen it before. Unfortunately, YouTube doesn't do it justice because it's really all in the expressions.