As you may have heard, Dick Martin died today at the age of 86 from respiratory complications. Comic partners Dan Rowan and Martin hosted the ’60s variety show “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In”.
I remember watching re-runs of the show when I was a wee-lad. While the rest of the cast looked intrinsically attached to the 1960s, whether it be the flower-powered Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin, or the straight-laced Rowan and Gary Owens, there was something about Martin that made him pop out from the time capsule. He was fearlessly convinced of his own silliness and cluelessness. He volleyed back responses that bounced from classic Abbott & Costello-style vaudeville to oblique tangents boardering on non sequiturs. Sometimes it seemed like Rowan was either struggling to keep up or struggling to keep a straight face. He frequently failed in the latter, but that made the duo all the more charming.
The show itself was something of a mini-revolution, shattering the expected variety show format. I very much doubt that sketch comedy shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “MadTV” could have existed without “Laugh-In”.
Here’s a clip from the show that features Rowan & Martin that I dug up from YouTube. Enjoy.