January 5, 2010

An Open Letter To David Bianculli

Dear Mr. Bianculli,

First, I have to publicly say - I love your work. TV Worth Watching is one of my favorite blogs about television, and I always enjoyed hearing you on NPR's Fresh Air.

My purpose in writing this is to simply gush over your new book about the Smothers Brothers, entitled Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour". It is one of the best books I have read about television, about free speech, and comedy...and how sometimes business and entertainment often can clash.

I have to admit, I'm a little biased - I absolutely adore the Smothers Brothers, and am unashamed to say it. (In fact, I even podcasted about Rhino's Sibling Revelry: The Best of the Smothers Brothers collection) I listened to many of their early 1960s album (which I'm surprised you covered, and I mean this in a good way). In many ways, this reads like an expanded version of the 2002 documentary Smothered, although we do have some further hindsight and greater context. (After all, The Daily Show was only recently gaining prominence, and I think Stephen Colbert was still doing voice work for Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law).

But rather than continue to gush (especially for readers who have no idea what I'm talking about), I'll use your promotional video to provide some overview:

But I wanted to thank you because, in a time when some networks are accused of simply spewing the party line on other site, we need satire more than ever. Reading Dangerously Funny, I'm struck by the fact that whenever our nation is in crisis, usually free speech is the first right to be questioned...and your book is a really good argument for honest and open dialogue. It's also an immensely entertaining read. (Yes, it does get a little gushing towards the end, but the Smothers are worth it).

And ironically, I received the first disc of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: Season 3 via Netflix, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that some language had been "bleeped". Oh, well, the more things change...

But anyway, thanks again for a great book. I appreciate it.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

Oddly, one of things I remember the most - and which slightly troubled me about whether the Smothers Brothers had to cross a picket line - is when the show's musicians went on strike. Interestingly, the theme song was more effective as done by a cappella singers (apparently NOT in the musicians' union).