What weird, wacky stuff. Then, and now. In 1969 and 2019.
The star that ties it all together still? Lily Tomlin!
Laugh-In landed right in the middle of the zeitgeist, finding the seam between the broad strokes of The Carol Burnett Show and the scandalous satire of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (both also on CBS). It attracted all of the top celebrities, including 1968 presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon. Nixon’s “sock it to me?” cameo may have provided just enough difference with indifferent voters — just as Donald J. Trump’s Fallon hair-flip and SNL hosting on NBC may have 48 years later — to win the White House.
But it wasn’t just politics. As Michael Douglas, then a college student, recalled now for Netflix: “With its hilarious take on politics and cultural references — and I mean all types of cultural references — it hit the right note with my crowd.” So he talked his dad, Spartacus (aka Kirk Douglas), into doing Laugh-In, too.
Neal Patrick Harris and Tiffany Haddish host Still Laugh-In with a light touch, like the original duo of Rowan and Martin, even if Harris and Haddish had no previous reason for pairing up for this. For most of the hour, the writing and editing keeps it moving, just as the series had.
They go to the cocktail lounge and the joke wall, only now these set pieces are populated by the likes of Taye Diggs, Rita Moreno, Rita Wilson, Maria Bamford, Margaret Cho, Nikki Glaser, Lisa Ann Walter, Bobby Moynihan, Cheri Oteri, Jeff Ross, Tony Hale, Jon Lovitz, Natasha Leggero and Russell Peters.