Righteous Brothers

Two white-bread guys whose pretty folk duets digress into fraternal bickering – it doesn’t sound like the recipe for a long career in show business. Yet the Smothers Brothers, about a half-century after they started, remain comedy legends.

Most of this iconic status is thanks to the short-lived CBS variety show The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Starting in 1967, Tom and Dick Smothers’ deceptively mild-mannered shtick served as cover for smuggling topical sketches and hip music onto network TV. Mason Williams, Steve Martin, Bob Einstein, and Rob Reiner were among the writers. Musical guests ranged from Jefferson Airplane to Pete Seeger, who performed “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” while the U.S. was waist-deep in Vietnam. By 1969, CBS had had enough, and pulled the plug.

Fri., Jan. 9, 8 p.m., 2009