Long before Saturday Night Live became the number one sketch comedy series that has kept the night owls laughing up to now, there was once Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, it became one of the most popular and the “hippest” classic TV shows during that time that ran from 1968 to 1973. And like Saturday Night Live, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was broadcast on NBC.
Of course, many would remember future president Richard Nixon’s guesting as well as the legendary “sock it to me” catchphrase. But there’s a lot more to know about Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In that may make you to look at the series a bit more differently!
1. A daytime spin-off series?
If you are a really knowledgeable fan of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, then you might have also seen its spin-off daytime show Letters to Laugh-In, which was a short-lived 1969 game show. It was hosted by Gary Owens, who was the announcer for Laugh-In.
2. Topps Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In trading cards.
The popularity of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In resulted to numerous merchandises, which include trading cards manufactured from the company Topps, which was known for its TV tie-ins. This time around, however, designers came up with clever interactive designs which allowed card players do certain things such pulling the cards’ pop-ups to reveal a joke’s punchline.
3. Laugh-In magazine
Another merchandise tie-in was the humor publication entitled Laugh-In Magazine, which was published from October 1968 through October 1969. Since it rolled out only 12 issues, Laugh-In Magazine is now considered a rare collectors’ item.
4. The Beatles were huge fans of the show.
Of course, even superstars become fans themselves of something or someone else. In this case, the world-famous Fab Four were huge fans of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. The boys were even re-enacting Laugh-In’s scenes, sketches and catchphrases in-between studio rehearsals. That climaxed when Ringo Starr guested on the show sometime in 1970; his appearance there lasted no more than 30 seconds.
5. Laugh-In comic strip.
Cartoonist and illustrator Roy Doty (1922-2015) created a syndicated newspaper comic strip, simply titled Laugh-In, which ran from 1968 to 1972. He was also known for his other works such as Judy Blume’s children’s novels Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and its sequel Superfudge.
6. 1977 reboot.
Four years after the original Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In ended, NBC revived the series only for a brief time in 1977. Simply titled Laugh-In, it presented an all-new cast which included a fledgling comedian named Robin Williams (who would shoot to overnight fame a year later with his breakout role in the sitcom Mork & Mindy).
7. The show actually inspired an ice cream flavor!
The late actor Flip Wilson, who was one of the show’s regulars, first popularized the catchphrase “Here comes the judge.” It quickly trended among baby boomers. More than that, it even inspired a chewy and chocolate-y Baskin-Robbins concoction, named “Here Comes the Fudge.” The ice cream chain produced this flavor for many decades.
8. “Here comes the judge” also inspired a specially-made vehicle.
“Here comes the judge” inspired not only a Baskin-Robbins ice cream flavor, but also muscle cars. The catchphrase became trending during that time, that General Motors launched a special “The Judge” Pontiac GTO model in 1969. Further taking advantage of the catchphrase’s popularity, GM injected promotional phrases such as “All rise for the Judge” and “The Judge can be bought.”