Today, we will say "G'bye dere" to comedy duos, and try to determine why they have, by and large, vanished.
The most staggeringly successful of it's time was Martin and Lewis.
Allen and Rossi probably used Martin and Lewis as their business model.
But they probably knew that they were both far inferior to Martin and Lewis.
It's commonly known that there was a lot of bad blood between Martin and Lewis towards the end of their partnership.
Ever since Dean's death, Jerry has been making the Grand Tour of "We always loved each other".
I've seen a film of their entire Copa act.
Very similar to what they did on "The Colgate Comedy Hour".
I don't think that their movies really captured the dynamic that made them hilarious.
Although who am I to argue with the fortunes that each one made?
I will anyway.
The movies, or at least the man responsible for what Dean and Jerry did in their movies, Hal Wallis, didn't quite know what to do with Dean.
They usually turned his character into a somewhat shady villain, ready if not eager to exploit Jerry's good and loving nature.
And they always gave him those really crummy songs to sing to women.
The kind designed to drive their paying customers, mostly little boys, myself included, to high-tail it to the concession stands to get more popcorn.
During one of the "We always loved each other." tours, I've heard Jerry say that he specifically commissioned the writing of "That's Amore", so that it could be stuck into their film, "The Caddy".
And that this would provide Dean with the hit record he so desperately needed so he could keep up with Jerry's success.
This begs the question "How did he know that "That's Amore"" would be any kind of a hit?
Nobody knows what's going to be a hit.
No comedian who isn't a songwriter or a singer.
Jerry claims that he knew.
If "That's Amore" turned out to not be a hit, would Jerry have kept commissioning songs for Dean to get him that elusive hit?
And why, after "That's Amore" became the huge hit that it was, did Dean then go back to singing four more years worth of crappy songs to women in their movies?
This one doesn't pass the smell test.
But they ended up both being huge, huge stars.
And deserved to be.
Their legacy, apart from their talent, was that they spurred rip-offs of themselves.
I've covered Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo, who literally wanted to make you think that they WERE Martin and Lewis.
Allen and Rossi were cut very much from the same mold.
As were Rowan and Martin.
They were two minor leaguers who became bigger than they had any right to be because of "Laugh-In".
I was in on the ground floor of thinking that "Laugh-In" was shit.
From day one.
There were comparisons to Ernie Kovacs by the critics when "Laugh-In" first hit the airwaves.
But the main difference was that Ernie Kovacs was subtle.
When Ernie Kovacs did blackouts, they were accompanied musically by some guy singing "Mack The Knife" in the original German.
When "Laugh-In" did blackouts, they were accompanied by what I refer to as "Diddly Music".
And I'm not referring to Bo Diddly.
Rather to music that kind of diddles along in it's relentlessly upbeat way, with the lead instrument invariably being the xylophone.
Music that screams out, saying "This is supposed to be funny, folks!"
In later years, once their was a "Laverne and Shirley", I would refer to "Laverne and Shirley" and "Laugh-In" as polar opposites.
"Laverne and Shirley" was a left-wing show dressed up in right-wing trappings.
Just about everyone involved in it regarded themselves as hipper than the show they were working on.
But the music was written by they guys who wrote the music for "Love, American Style".
And it sounded like it.
The first time I heard the theme music and the music cues, I was nauseous for a week.
But it probably helped contribute to it's success.
"Laugh-In", on the other hand, was a right-wing show dressed up in left-wing trappings.
All that body paint on girls wearing bikinis, and sly references to marijuana, with jokes supervised by a head-writer who was a staunch Republican who also wrote jokes for Nixon.
Rowan and Martin's legacy, and "Laugh-In" 's legacy were equally non-existent.
We'll continue this exploration next time.
My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link: www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman
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- mark rothman
- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."