Today marks the anniversary of the premier of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In in 1968. My parents called it "mod," and we watched it every week. We gathered in front of the TV for an hour of innuendo, skinny chicks in bikinis, off-color jokes, and silly gags--remember the wall full of doors that opened seemingly at random to reveal regular cast members and their dopey one liners? Or Goldie Hawn acting stupid? Or Joanne Worley with that obnoxious cackling?
I never understood why that show was permitted in our house. We were strict Baptists--tee totalling people with knee-length skirts who weren't allowed to dance and weren't allowed to listen to rock-n-roll and weren't allowed to say even words like dern or gosh or darn it. We went to church every week and competed in Bible drills and Sunday school attendance contests with red and blue teams. Yet, on Monday evenings, we watched the entire hour of Laugh-In. I remember hearing a joke I was sure I shouldn't be hearing and looking at my parents, wondering why they weren't changing the channel. They never did. To this day, I don't get it.
I remember an episode of MASH when Hawkeye was particularly disturbed about an increase in fatalities and the futility of war. In a rant, he called someone a son of a bitch. My mother got up and turned the channel, saying "I don't like that at all. I will not have that in my house." I sat on the couch thinking, "you'll turn off a show that curses at death and destruction, but you'll let me watch half-naked women and dirty jokes and drug references." It just didn't make sense.
Well, for whatever reason, I grew up watching Laugh-In. I never cared for Goldie Hawn or Arte Johnson, but that Lily Tomlin--now that woman could tell a joke.