On January 22, 1968, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (often simply referred to as Laugh-In), an American sketch comedy television program premiered on the NBC television network. It ran for 140 episodes through March 12, 1973.
It was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and featured, at various times, Chelsea Brown, Johnny Brown, Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne, Richard Dawson, Henry Gibson, Teresa Graves, Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Larry Hovis, Jeremy Lloyd, Dave Madden, Pigmeat Markham, Gary Owens, Pamela Rodgers, Barbara Sharma, Alan Sues, Lily Tomlin and Jo Anne Worley.
The title of the show was a play on the “love-ins” or “be-ins” of the 1960s hippie culture, terms that were, in turn, derived from “sit-ins”, common in protests associated with civil rights and anti-war demonstrations of the time.
In 2002, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was ranked #42 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
Laugh-In had its roots in the humor of vaudeville and burlesque, but its most direct influences were from the comedy of Olsen and Johnson (specifically, their free-form Broadway revue Hellzapoppin’), the innovative television works of Ernie Kovacs, and the topical satire of That Was The Week That Was.
The show was characterized by a rapid-fire series of gags and sketches, many of which conveyed sexual innuendo or were politically charged. The co-hosts continued the exasperated straight man (Rowan) and “dumb” guy (Martin) act which they had established as nightclub comics. This was a continuation of cartoonist Chic Young’s “Dumb Dora”, and acts from vaudeville, best popularized by Burns and Allen.