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Dangerously Funny by David Bianculli

Dangerously Funny (edition 2009)

by David Bianculli

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1981659,376 (3.83)13
Title:Dangerously Funny
Authors:David Bianculli
Info:Touchstone (2009), Edition: 1, Kindle Edition, 420 pages
Tags:history, non-fiction, Comedy

Work details

Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" by David Bianculli


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This history of The Smothers Brothers show brings back wonderful memories of watching TV with family members and being able to jointly enjoy their humor. The book is also an outstanding history of the early 1960s. ( )
  M_Clark | Apr 25, 2016 |
This is an excellent recounting of not only the "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour", but of the entire career of the Smothers Brothers. Even if you are too young to remember the show, its a fascinating story of the effort they made to battle the forces trying to control the flow of information and ideas.

Unfortunately, that battle still continues and will probably never be won decisively. ( )
  grandpahobo | Sep 24, 2015 |
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour premiered in 1967 and quickly became one of my favorite TV shows. I also credit it with being one of my earliest political influences. This book chronicles the Smothers Brothers origins and how the show began, and the running battles that Tommy had with network brass, who had no intention of adhering to a verbal "hands-off" promise that Tommy swore he extracted from them before signing on. The show was cutting edge for the day, although the troublesome skits and jokes seem innocuous indeed to modern sensibilities. A number of talents launched their careers with the show, including Steve Martin and Rob Reiner. I particularly enjoyed reading about the final and contentious third season, while watching my DVD collection of that season's shows. I'm glad to see the Smothers Brothers' reputation restored these days, and modern humorists and performers giving them their just due. ( )
  burnit99 | Jul 8, 2014 |
If you grew up in the United States, and were born after 1960 or so, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour may be the most significant television program you’ve never heard of.

It ran for only three seasons (1967-1969), but in that time it was television’s premier showcase for up-and-coming musical acts and topical humor. It booked some of the leading musical acts of the late sixties—Donovan, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Baez, and the Who—and broke the 17-year network-television blacklist of folksinger Pete Seeger, but its impact on comedy was even greater. Guided by Tom Smothers, who produced helped to write the show as well as sharing hosting duties with his younger brother Dick, Comedy Hour joked about once-taboo subjects (sex, drugs, religion) and hot-button political issues such as race relations and the Vietnam War. It was something unheard of at the time (and still rare): an entertainment program with a distinct political point-of-view.

The show’s constant pushing of the envelope made battles between the creative staff and the network censors inevitable, and Tom’s combative personality, and fierce commitment to his political principles intensified them. Both the network and the nation acquired new, more conservative presidents during the show’s third and final season, making the battles even more ferocious. CBS eventually won the battle—terminating the brothers’ contract on a flimsy legal pretext—but it lost culture war. The Smothers Brothers became heroes to the young, the educated, and the politically engaged . . . and inspirations for virtually every topical-comedy program that has aired on American television since.

David Bianculi sets out, in Dangerously Funny, to recount the history of the show and make a case for its significance. Both parts work brilliantly. The narrative of the show’s three seasons is meticulously detailed, but the details are carefully chosen to make the case for the Smothers Brothers as powerful, influential voices in a turbulent time. Bianculi writes with the warmth and enthusiasm of a fan, but the discrimination and analytical bent of a cultural historian. He takes care to move beyond “Isn’t it cool that Pete Seeger appeared on the show?” and into why—at that particular moment in 1968—it was revolutionary.

Dangerously Funny is, as a result of Bianculi’s eye for detail and ear for dialogue, not just a great book about a legendary television series—it’s an important contribution to our understanding of America in the 1960s. ( )
  ABVR | Sep 23, 2013 |
I like the Smothers Brothers but not as much and Bianculli appears to, if this book is anything to go by!

I'll admit to not finishing it because there is too much detail. If you want to know every guest, every song and every fight with CBS censors then this is the book for you. Me, I think I'm saving some pennies to buy the complete set of the series on DVD to enjoy each guest, each song and just know in the back of my mind that much of this came at a great cost to Tom and Dick Smothers in their fight to bring political awareness to their audience. Tom in particular fought with his heart and it got dented badly as a result.

Although I was overwhelmed with the detail I did skim a great deal of this and there is some information here and I'm glad I got a chance to look it over. ( )
  bookswoman | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Most of “Dangerously Funny” is easygoing and informative, with Bianculli serving as a friendly but authoritative guide. He does not set your brain on fire with his perceptions or his prose, but he makes apt comparisons, and he has good taste. As the book should be reaching its climax, however, his narrative plods along, as if he had grown weary of tracking all the inter­office memos flying back and forth between his subjects and the CBS bosses who fired them when they were still bringing in good numbers.
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To Tom and Dick Smothers, for their trust, their cooperation, and especially their patience
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"Dangerously Funny" presents a rollicking history of the rise and fall of the wildly influential '60s TV show, and it's lasting influence on the cultural landscape.

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