‘Laugh-In’, also known as ‘Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In’, is one of the most famous American sketch comedy shows of all time. The show aired from 1968 to 1973. It mostly stages short and rapid comedy sketches, and has its roots in the vaudeville form of theatre, wherein the comedies are based on certain situations created by the characters. These short skits usually concentrate on the humorous aspects and do not aim at spreading any moral values. The sketches in ‘Laugh-In’ sometimes use sexual undertones in their humor. If you’re looking for shows that use similar concepts and ideas, then we’ve got you covered. Here’s the list of best series similar to ‘Laugh-In’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these shows like ‘Laugh-In’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
7. The Dean Martin Show (1965-1974)
Dean Martin is one of the biggest comedy legends of American television, and ‘The Dean Martin Show’ is the longest-running show he has ever worked in. It is a sketch-comedy show that ran on NBC from 1965 to 1974. Martin, interestingly, only agreed to do the show after NBC promised he would not have to appear for rehearsals. Whatever mistake he made during the show was aired as it is, including the part where he fixes his mistake. The show has some segments which are done regularly like Martin singing two songs, one a serious ballad, and one a comedic duet. In another regular segment, the song ‘Strangers In The Night’ is played and Dean asks the viewers to write to him saying who they think the singer is. Finally, one day, the actual singer of the song, Frank Sinatra makes an appearance on the show saying that he himself is the mystery singer. The series was very popular among fans and even won Martin a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Comedy Series.
6. The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978)
Considered by many to be one of the greatest shows ever in American television history, ‘The Carol Burnett Show’ aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978. Carol Burnett herself along with Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner are the stars of the show. Waggoner left in 1975 and was replaced by Tim Conway, who was only a guest star in some episodes till then. A number of recurring sketches are put up in every episode where we see the comedic duo of Burnett and Vicki Lawrence perform as two sisters. Interestingly enough, Lawrence’s letter written as a fan to Burnett helped her land the gig. Parody sketches in the series like ‘As The Stomach Turns’ (‘As The World Turns’), ‘Went With The Wind!’ (‘Gone With The Wind’) became very popular and made Burnett into a household name. The show won a whopping 25 Primetime Emmy Awards during its run.
5. The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971)
‘The Ed Sullivan’ show can easily be regarded as one of the most culturally significant TV shows in American television history. It is a variety show where comedy, music, magic performances, and sketches are performed. The show was extremely popular during its run and helped introduce a number of important artists to the American audiences. It so happened that ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ became one of the most of-watched shows in America and watching the show on every Sunday evening became a ritual for many American families.
Some of the biggest names in music first came to the public sphere after their appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’. Elvis Presley became the first such performer. However, Sullivan was not happy with Elvis’ gyrating dance moves and considered them vulgar. British bands like The Beatles and Rolling Stones and American bands like The Doors also made their names after appearing on the show. The first time when The Beatles appeared on the show in 1963 is considered an iconic moment in American pop culture.
4. The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (1971-1974)
This show materialized after Cher and her husband Sonny Bono stopped producing musical numbers and introduced a variety in their performances, blending comedy with music. The duo first went across the country performing in nightclubs, and was later offered a show by CBS, called ‘The Sony and Cher Comedy Hour’. Here, we can see the duo introducing comedy sketches and comedic musical numbers in a number of recurring segments. One of the recurring sketches came to be known as ‘The Vamp Sketch’. In this sketch, Cher is seen playing some iconic yet villainously portrayed women from history, like Nefertiti, Cleopatra, and Marlene Dietrich. The sketch comprises of three short skits, and between each one, Sonny sings one verse of a song. Every verse ends with the chorus, “She was a scamp, a camp and a bit of tramp, she was a V-A-M-P, vamp”. In another skit titled ‘Sonny’s Pizza’, we see Sonny in the role of the owner of a pizzeria whose food is considered terrible by everyone except Sonny.
3. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1973; 1974)
Monty Python is one of the most famous and iconic comedy groups in history. They have left their indelible mark on whatever they did, be it films or television. ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’, their first television outing, likewise, became a huge success. In this show, we can see Monty Python carrying on their surrealist humor in absurdist sketches, making exemplary use of satire and wordplay for the humor. Each one of the members of the group is university-educated, and the references made to literature, art, philosophy, and history in their humor reflect their extensive reading and knowledge. The sketches of ‘Flying Circus’ are observational, without the use of punchlines, and rely more on sight gags. The Knight With The Raw Chicken, The It-Man, and a nude organist are some of the recurring characters that make a number of appearances on the show. The series won three BAFTA TV Awards.
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2. The Tonight Show (1954-)
‘The Tonight Show’, which has been airing since 1954, is a cultural phenomenon on American television. It is essentially a talk show that features one host and several guests per episode. A live band is present, which provides the musical background to the entire show. Sometimes, upcoming stand-up comedians also appear on the show and they present their acts. The hosts of the show have all been comedians, all of who have been highly influential in American pop culture.
Till date, ‘The Tonight Show’ has had six hosts — Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and Jimmy Fallon. Fallon is the current host of the show and he has been in the position since 2014. Each host has had his unique gag, sketches, and recurring characters on the show. Fallon has introduced a number of fun games which he regularly plays with his celebrity guests. Jay Leno has been the longest host of the show in terms of episodes, while Conan O’Brien has been the shortest. Important comedians like Leno himself, Don Rickles, and Jerry Seinfeld first came to the notice of the national audience after their appearances on ‘The Tonight Show’.
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1. Saturday Night Live (1975-)
This late-night variety show is one of the most iconic shows in the history of television, and has given America some of its most famous comedians. Lorne Michaels is the creator of ‘SNL’, who still works actively on the show. A number of comedy sketches are performed on SNL, each of which satirizes some cultural element or recent political situations in the country. Each episode is hosted by a special guest, and only a handful of guests have made multiple appearances as host. The ones who have hosted more than five times, like Tom Hanks and Dwayne Johnson, have inducted themselves into a comedic elite club. Comedy icons like Bill Murray, Adam Sandler, Tina Fey, and Jimmy Fallon all became popular as members of SNL’s cast or writers. Even comedians like Conan O’Brien and Louis CK have worked as writers for the show. The series has won a whopping 65 Primetime Emmy Awards during its run.
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