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Singing comedy duo The Smothers Brothers in 1966

The Story

Tom and Dick Smothers, a folk-singing duo who are known for their comic “patter” between songs, are on the Canadian National Exhibition edition of Luncheon Date.  They talk to host Elwood Glover about the pressure comedians feel to be funny all the time and their appreciation for a straight interview.  They discuss changing technique to perform at an outdoor show like the Grandstand, how their act evolved, Tom’s signature shy routine, and mastering timing.  They also get around to a discussion about entertainers and political opinions, and their appreciation for the creative freedom allowed on Canadian television.

Broadcast Medium: Television
Program: Luncheon Date
Broadcast Date: Aug. 22, 1966
Interviewer: Elwood Glover
Guest: Tom Smothers, Dick Smothers

Did You know?

• Tom Smothers was born Feb. 2, 1937, and his brother Dick was born Nov. 20, 1939. 

• The Canadian National Exhibition show they referred to in this clip as Swinging Sixties included The New Christy Minstrels, the fifty-member dancing Midge Arthur Canadettes, and the head-lining Smothers Brothers.  A note in the Globe and Mail on Aug. 27, 1966 reported that the Smothers Brothers show brought in $105,900 for the CNE Grandstand, and compared it to the Victor Borge show for the same period the year before, which brought in $90,000.

• In an interview with the Globe and Mail on Aug. 20, 1966, Tom Smothers also discussed the pressures of being the funny half of the duo -- "Being a funny man is the most demanding medium I know.  You're always tied to your audience." In the same article his brother Tom conceded to having the easier role -- "I'm under no pressure...A straight man can just stand there."

• At the time of this interview they had wrapped up a show on CBS called The Smothers Brothers Show, which did not do well.  They began the successful and eventually politically controversial variety show The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967, up against Sunday-night mainstay Bonanza.  Watch this clip for a look at that show's Canadian star Lorne Greene.  The show was canceled in April 1969, after battles over controversial segments with David Steinberg, among others.  The show's summer replacement in 1968 led to a highly successful variety show for Glen Campbell, who discusses that in this clip.


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