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Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of "the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Library ed edition (18 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400145708
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400145706
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 2.3 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kona TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Dec 2009
Format: Hardcover
From 1967-70, the Smothers Brothers were the hottest thing on TV. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour combined their folk singing and comedy act with musical guests and skits by big stars. The brothers, especially Tom, also included never-before-seen anti-establishment humor that was critical of mainstream sacred cows such as politics, religion, and bigotry.

The CBS network held the show on a tight rein and regularly objected to material that they felt was controversial. Tension between Tom and the censors escalated until the brothers were finally fired in their third season.

I have fond memories of the show and especially enjoyed regulars David Steinberg, Officer Judy, and Pat Paulson. This book is recommended for the show's fans and for television historians who want a thorough examination of this ground-breaking series.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 107 reviews
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful and Nostalgic 24 Dec 2009
By J. Whitney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think I must have seen every episode of that show as a kid growing up and this behind the scenes look is fascinating. The author covers pretty much every episode their creation and evolution, and interviews many of the participants, many of whom went on to famous careers themselves. Steve Martin. Rob Reiner. And of course Pat Paulsen. I had never realized that the Bob Einstein who played "Officer Judy" and now haunts "Curb Your Enthusiam" is Albert Brooks' brother. Tommy Smothers is particularly fascinating when you see how he was the driving force behind the show and realize just how sharp he is compared to the character he played. Even if you weren't a big fan, this book also takes a look at a key transition in American culture as the show manages to straddle the traditional while making way for a new era. So many famous bands had their beginnings there. The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Buffalo Springfield. By the end, even the Beatles were guests. It made me miss the days of one television, 3 channels, and the whole family having to watch the same thing, especially when I got to snicker at the jokes that were targeted at my generation and going over the head of my parents. What's sad is when you pull your head out of this book and look at the endless prattle of today's reality television and realize we can never return to this level of creativity just because of the economics of television. Great stuff.
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
homage to great comedic satirists 4 Dec 2009
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Although the biography primarily focuses on the famous TV show that nuked the then boundaries of television, there is more to this solid look at this groundbreaking show. David Bianculli opens with a section on the childhood and early steps of the brothers entering the entertainment world until their key appearance on the Jack Paar show. However, it is the deep look into each show and the battles with CBS and with other members of the show over what can be said or used on the air that makes this a fascinating biography. Finally the ultimate tribute to Tom and Dick Smothers besides bios like this one is how far they opened TV with current satire that tore into the establishment. The show was killed in its third season in 1969, but Mr. Bianculli makes a strong case that its influence remains stratospheric today in Stewart, Colbert and Maher.

Harriet Klausner
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"David's book documents a true prime-time crime caper...The perpetrators got away..." -- Mason Williams 6 Feb 2013
By Annie Van Auken - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
First off, kudos to David Bianculli for his outstanding way with words, a style that's reader friendly, never affectatious. He's also incredibly accurate in DANGEROUSLY FUNNY, a carefully researched book on the Smothers Brothers' lives and groundbreaking TV variety series. I only noticed a few errors or omissions, all quite trivial.

ERRORS: A mention of Tom sneaking "bosom of America" into their "Cabbage" routine after CBS wouldn't allow mention of "breast" elsewhere, doesn't reflect that he was using this joke in their stage act prior to 1967. The Monterey Pop Festival of 6/16-18, 1967 is cited as "smack in the middle of the summer of love" when it was really at the end of spring (trivial, like I said).

OMISSIONS: The choir singing a love definition in one guest spot isn't credited to composer Bob Dorough and his "5 Definitions of Love," which appeared on the first Spanky and Our Gang album. In describing Tommy being around while Mason Williams created "Classical Gas," an instrumental piece that peaked at #2 on Billboard's Hot 100, we are never told that when Mason asked Tom's opinion of the song, he replied that it was too busy, had "too many notes." Again, no big deal.

Tom and Dick Smothers are well-chronicled here, from childhood to their early days as a folk trio (three Smothers Brothers?), to their MERCURY Records successes, appearances on TV, their own show, which ran a rocky course for three seasons, and beyond. It's an always fascinating story, thanks to the skill and efforts of author Bianculli.

I love the behind the scenes detail that DANGEROUSLY FUNNY contains, and its nuggets of trivia. (Did you know that a still unknown Pat Paulsen carried the bass drum on the debut show's opening sequence, his face hidden by an enormous mustache?) Best of all are the explorations of many of Comedy Hour's most significant episodes, also a blow-by-blow accounting of Tommy's fight for creative freedom and the resultant battle with CBS censors, his small victories and ultimate defeat when the show was abruptly cancelled in April '69 even after the network had renewed it for another year.

Many of the key players on both sides of the censorship issue are heard from in this book. Surprisingly, none of the quoted former network execs who were antagonized by Tommy's game-playing with show content and his endless sarcastic memos has anything bad to say in retrospect. Most amazing of all are comments by a man very much responsible for Comedy Hour's cancellation, former CBS head censor William Tankersley. (Tommy often called him at his East Coast home at all hours of the night to complain about various content deletions, in doing so going over the heads of CBS's West Coast censors.) In the book's very last chapter Tankersley says, "What a good show it was. It was a well-mounted show. That thing was just perfect, and the guest stars were excellent. But with the battles, you know, they just wouldn't stop. It's a shame."
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Honesty for the times 1 Dec 2009
By Karen A. Nichols - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Smother's Brothers were what the country needed and the types that are still vital to our lives. It's called honesty. The network executives without the back bones or balls to weather the storm are the ones to blame for removing them from the airwaves.

Anytime you have networks who live for the perks from the politicians who live for the perks from the lobbyists....well, you know the drill.

The Story is good and honest, thank you for letting me grow up being forced to think, not follow like a sheep.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Riveting, revealing, relevant -- and hilarious! 7 May 2010
By Julia Brantley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Mom always liked you best!" Tom Smothers would whine to his brother Dick, onstage during their late `60s variety show, never failing to get a laugh. Playing idiot to his brother's suave persona, "Tommy" Smothers came off as a bumbling comedian who held a lifelong grudge.
David Bianculli reveals the truth behind the jokes in chronicling the rise and demise of one of the most innovative and independent television series in American history in Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
Those of us who watched the show in the late 60's will appreciate the stroll down memory lane in the litany of guest stars and bits that the brothers aired. Tom Smothers' slow-minded stage persona disguised a savvy, cutting-edge talent scout who could seamlessly blend aging vaudeville stars such as Jimmy Durante, George Burns, Jack Benny and the like with up-and-coming acts including Sonny and Cher, The Turtles, and a lesser-known British Invasion band simply entitled The Who.
Music/entertainment buffs will love this episode-by-episode narrative, drawing the reader into television history as the Comedy Hour knocked the epic "Bonanza" out of the reigning #1 viewing slot, as well as defining moments in music - such as the time The Who blew up Keith Moon's drum kit onstage and gave Bette Davis such a fright that she fainted offstage.
Bianculli zeros in on the memos and discussions furiously exchanged as Tom Smothers engaged in a long-running feud with the CBS censors over content. Ever critical of the Vietnam war, the brothers used their Sunday night show as a forum for their beliefs and those of their generation. Many guest stars on the Comedy Hour had been blacklisted for political posturing, but Tom Smothers wrangled them onstage anyway. Celebrities such as Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, and Joan Baez were carefully monitored by the censors on both coasts - even to the point of some of their dialogue being cut just before airtime. President Lyndon Johnson took the brothers' political jabs with a grain of salt, personally congratulating them for their forays into the contemporary, but the Nixon White House did not. Bianculli details the breadth and length of Nixon's hard-line stance - "possibly" influencing the show getting cancelled in 1969.
Nostalgic, revealing, topically relevant in today's similar political climate of unpopular wars and rumored clandestine government, Dangerously Funny makes for a riveting revisit to 40 years ago.

Julia Brantley
A Score of Intervals: Sharps & Flats on Brusca
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