Letters to Laugh-In
|Letters to Laugh-In|
|Directed by||Alan J. Levi|
|Presented by||Gary Owens|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||George Schlatter-Ed Friendly Productions in association with Romart Inc.|
|Original release||September 29 – December 26, 1969|
|Related shows||Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In|
Letters to Laugh-In is a daytime game show and spin-off of NBC's popular nighttime comedy series at the time, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, that aired on the network from September 29 to December 26, 1969. The show was hosted by Gary Owens, the announcer for Laugh-In.
Home viewers mailed their jokes to the program, during which they were read by a panel of four celebrities – two of them Laugh-In regulars. Each joke was rated on a scale of minus-100 to plus-100 by a randomly selected audience panel.
"Morgul, the friendly Drelb" (who Owens always referred to on Laugh-In, but who was never seen) would hand Owens the categories for each round, in the form of a hand or puppet reaching through the top of the podium, usually with added sound effects
The highest and lowest rated jokes each day won the viewers a prize. Trips were awarded for the highest-rated Joke-of-the-Week (such as a trip to Hawaii), while the lowest-rated joke-of-the-week won a trip to "Beautiful downtown Burbank". A Grand Prize (a '69 convertible) was awarded for the highest rated joke of the entire 13-week run (see below)
One particularly notable joke from the program asked the question, "What's the difference between a sigh, a car, and a jackass?" When the other person answered that he did not know, the questioner said, "A sigh is 'oh dear,' and a car is 'too dear.'" When pressed what's a jackass, the questioner responded, "You dear."
The eventual Grand Prize winning entry was a joke read by actress Jill St. John: "What do you get when you cross an elephant with a jar of peanut butter? A 500-pound sandwich that sticks to the roof of your mouth!"
Letters to Laugh-In debuted on September 29, 1969 at 4:00 PM (3:00 Central). It replaced The Match Game, which had been canceled after a seven-year run in that slot. Like Match Game, Letters to Laugh-In faced the popular Dark Shadows on ABC and reruns of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. on CBS. Letters to Laugh-In was soundly beaten in the ratings. As such, unlike the nighttime Laugh-In (which enjoyed a five-year run on NBC), Letters to Laugh-In lasted only three months before being canceled on December 26. Its replacement was Loman & Barkley's Name Droppers, an equally short-lived game that was replaced on March 30, 1970 by the soap opera Somerset.
- The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television, Wesley Hyatt (Billboard Books, 1997)