“Don’t grab, Hass.” Got cut by the CBS censors from one of the most talked about sketches ever aired on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. In a spoof of Bonanza, the late Cass Elliott was playing the character “Hass”, modeled after Dan Blocker’s “Hoss”. She snatched a piece of paper from another actor’s hand and that was his reply, “Don’t grab, Hass.”
If you think our world political situation is tense today, you should have been a teenager in 1969. We thought we were on the brink of nuclear war when Khrushchev pounded on the table and said “We will bury you!” My generation was the one that had learned in previous years to “duck and cover” in school — and you can’t say “ass” on TV?
Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour is David Bianculli’s tribute to the brothers Smothers. Writing this book was a project that was interrupted several times, but Bianculli always persisted and always with the full support of Tom and Dick Smothers. It is essentially an authorized biography, not only of the brothers (and one sister), but also of the Comedy Hour and many of the stars and supporting characters.
The brothers became interested in music and folk songs early and sang often on road trips to visit their grandmother. (Their cover of “Down in the Valley” was the only song on their first album done with no interruptions.) Burl Ives and George Gobel are credited as early influences in both music and comedy respectively. The Kingston Trio’s number-one hit, “Tom Dooley,” introduced them to a format they would later use to shape and perfect their stage act — a spoken introduction.
Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour is an immensely fun book to read and full of memories for the boomer generation. It also serves as a reminder of how we got to where we are today and why we shouldn’t blush when we hear words broadcast that couldn’t be when we were young.