Tommy Smothers: Are you gonna do what I gonna do Don Rickles.

Interviewer: Yes. He said yes. We haven't found. Yeah. Yeah. That's going to be great.

Tommy Smothers: So I just want to talk start a little bit by talking about that comedy in the late 50s and kind of what was happening there. There was a change going on in comedy at that time.

Interviewer: Well, what does it was a guy's name that I mentioned before. I did the phone thing to urge.

Tommy Smothers: Geroge Kobel.

Interviewer: No.

Interviewer: Come in on the telephone.

Tommy Smothers: No it was.

Interviewer: George Tessle? Shelley Berman.

Tommy Smothers: OK. Yeah.

Interviewer: So, yeah, what was happening with that was sort of a change going on in comedy. It seemed like the time in the late 50s.

Tommy Smothers: Comedy started changing a little bit weird. It was more personal, a personality driven, and it wasn't joke, joke, joke with Shelley Berman and and Lenny Bruce and in Bob Newhart, all different styles. And and the other side of. Favorite Mort Saul. And that was a that was a difference. The big difference from the comedy that was done in the 40s and 50s, thirties as Henny Youngman type of comedy. So there was something happening. There was a little. I thought really more interesting. Some of it was political, some of it wasn't, but the style was definitely different.

Interviewer: More personal each.

Tommy Smothers: It was more personal. And the styles were certainly. Defined and different. When you see the Jack Carders and you saw that it was a style that was fast and rapid and a similar pattern. But when it got to more song and got to Shelley Berman and particularly my favorite course was Bob Newhart, who you had to listen to him. And there was there was there was another conversation going on with them.

Interviewer: And how did Bob fit in? I mean, a lot of those people you're talking about were pretty kind of subversive in a way that had a lot of like, you know. He was more attacking certain targets.

Tommy Smothers: Yeah, well. Well, you know, Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce particularly had had a great social sense of injustice and criticism involved in their comedy. But Bob Newhart didn't ever go there. Well, regardless of his personal viewpoints, social awareness. But his was more of a. It was more of a conversation and he had so much air, which I always loved about him was Laurel and Hardy. I like so much that there was all this space in this air and you had to and his timing was so wonderful, because if there's no timing, if there's no silence, like in music, it's the spaces in between the silent spaces which define where the notes are and how powerful they are sympathetic. And Bob always had that, like Jack Benny had this wonderful. Arab waiting, which I admire so much because I was tried to emulate somehow it gives some space. When I saw the Masters do it, I was admired them very much. And Bob, particularly. When will get. I know I'm jumping to jump ahead, but that's OK. But I, I realized later on, after watching Bob and listen to his albums and watching sitcoms, and he was a guest on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and a couple of times. And it was always this. I was considered right. Later on, I look back, listen, he's a comedy team. So since I studied comedy team, my brother and I are comedy. He was he was accommodating. There was someone doing dialogue on the other side. All those phone conversations that Aimen is a standup was always this. Yeah, huh? So you you drove Latin and turn to turn right. Okay, but you know, nothing we don't do. Don't turn. Oh, that must have hurt, you know. So you. I've just made that up. There was someone talking to me all the time and it was never written, but you heard it. So he was a comedy team. And so when he goes into a sitcom, all they had to do is write in the words, because what he did was listen, he was listening to someone and great comics and great actors were always great listeners. And so even though he's listening to his own head, he was like Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy had this wonderful agreement, except he wasn't a ventriloquist, although is like Edgar Bergen. And so he wasn't doing this and that on the phone.

Interviewer: So it was like a one man comedy team.

Tommy Smothers: Bob Newhart was a one man comedy team cause there was another person there and he was listening to him and is reacting to him. And that was a genius of comedy. So how easy to step into a sitcom and just take these imaginary courage he's been listening to and write words for him. And he was always the reactor. He was always a listener. And his timing was just as good with other real actors as it was when he was listening to his own. Improvise people who were talking to him on the phone, who or whatever. So. That was the air that in that gentle, soft stuttering like he couldn't believe what he was hearing with you. He didn't really do that, you know. There was something in there. It was a I found very charming and an America found it engaging. It was a different a different type of comedy. And I don't know if anybody else has noticed that he was a one man comedy team, because I think that's really very clever to observe that. And I put it up to scrutiny and it holds you know, it holds because I bet you we could take some of his earlier albums and he's listening, putting in a couple of words there and actually hear those words. And he'd the comedy, too.

Interviewer: Yeah. Do you think Laurel and Hardy. Can you talk?

Tommy Smothers: Well, Laurel and Hardy, I remember when. And he was kind of like the. The straight man, but Loon Hardy Rowhani would be going. Well, you know, I told you, that's a dumbest thing I've ever seen you do. Just just slow. And Manekin and Oliver Hardy would just go. Well, a tick, tick, tick. And Laurel, I mean, Oliver Hardy didn't do a lot of talking. He was a straight man in the time. Did most of all the conversations were carried by seven percent. The dialogue was done by Bud Abbott, Oliver Hardy, even Dean Martin. And Dan Rowan, and they were so. Listening to the comic and. You know, the statements, great line. He says, Since I went out and I jumped out the bridge, you went out and jumped off the bridge. So it's kind of like you're here and Bob Newhart, you're going to don't you know? So you heard these conversations in Laurel and Hardy had to of all of them. Had the most wonderful space and air and silence that that holds up and under scrutiny today in the same way that Bob Newhart s always will withstand the scrutiny of changing changing styles and trends, there's something genuine about the real person. When you see Candid Camera, sometimes those early candid cameras in their eyes, that wonderful space as people react to this weird situation where they walked into a glass door and then stepped back on that point and look around to see if anybody noticed it. They did it near their nose. Her answer, they. All those little looks and takes and letting the brain really. Come up with all the lyrics to what they want to say, so Lorne Hardy and Jack Benny and and Bob Newhart. That's that's my little triplet of. I call the the great comedians of Silence and Sound.

Interviewer: What about. You're talking about some of the other people in the 60s at that same time period. Lenny Bruce and. And Bob obviously was not as political as they were, but was he in any way more subversive than he appeared? I mean, did his demeanor allow him to some of his targets were? Could he get away with things?

Tommy Smothers: I would have thought I would have, you know, thinking about Bob Newhart has been kind of more of an activist myself and trying to put. He could have become very subversive if he so chose to because it had such a soft delivery to it, you know. But he was not inclined to do that. And I always thought about my brother, my brother and I if I had a fully. If I imagine Waterland Hardy being political satirist, doing the same style would have been so endearing and probably non-threatening and getting a point across. And Evan Castelo, the same thing, although in So Rapid Fire. But the quality of streetman was a defining defining. It was the defining point. The thing that clarified whether comedy team was of any quality was the straight man was always the primary driver, regardless how good. Stan Laurel was there. Jerry Lewis and Lou Costello. But it was a streetman that allowed them to be who they were. And then Bob Newhart, too, is the same. He. He defines those other people that we don't even hear. But we know he's listening to. So that's is his skill of listening was this amazing skill of the straight man was always to be the ultimate listener. And I can imagine if Bob Newhart had ever teamed up with someone in his early career and it would have been the ultimate great, great straight man and would've been a great comedy team because of his validity as a great listener.

Interviewer: In the early 60s, there was something there was a I think was a Time magazine article. Comedians who were they were labelling the cynics. First of all, do you recall any of that? Who knows those? What they meant by sicknick.

Tommy Smothers: Was were they were primarily talking with the about Mort Saul and Lenny Bruce in particular, and there's a few others I can't recall now. They never got great fame, but they went to places in comedy that nobody else would go to. And so I called in sick Nixon, who was beat Nixon and was off that word. But it took great, great courage to do it with Lenny Bruce did. And what Mort Sahl did and some of the satirists that that dealt in the areas that you're not supposed to and Jerry comedians as a group, and particularly today's comedians, particularly in using words and said, don't ever tell a comedian not to say the F word because. They will. They'll even say I was told and use it, so comedians are contrarian's by nature and some are not hostile. Like Bob Newhart was not hostile. He was. He was a gentle comedian. And. But it could have been a devastating comedian as far as social change was concerned, if he was so inclined. You know, we all have in our hearts and our souls different things that drive us. What irritates and what gets angry and. I don't think of as an angry man. My brother's not angry either, so I have to kind of push him because I'm angry all the time. I'm angry. Look at the world. I see. This is not right. Someone's got to say something. Then I see my brother soon. Once you just shut up and relax. So we'll not let someone else say, why do you have to say it? I don't know. And some people are driven by that and some people aren't. I was more driven by that than I was more like a although I was only on television, I did that because they had writers. We could be clever. If I was clever enough, I would be a Bellmore or today. I think he's very good. And George Carlin I adore. And as he goes through his ups and downs, but he's one of the great social commentators. And I do think there's a lack of comedians taking on those areas. That should be.

Interviewer: Bob though it was interesting to me because he actually was smart. He was with those comics. And I'm just wondering if you see that at all. I mean, against your genes, maybe just did it in a less threatening way. Looked at the craziness of what.

Tommy Smothers: I would think of Bob Newhart was ever linked with that. It was a style, it was a style and was a new style of comedy was coming out. So they linked him, put him into that. Lenny Bruce in which songs and some of the other. But certainly his proximity to the same time that they're all becoming nationally recognized would put him into that group. It is certainly I thought it was just convenience would be convenience to put him there because he's one of the most popular and recognizable comedians at the time, along with the others at the same time that was happening. So they linked him there and blockin because a convenient way to put him together. But they all had something in common because it was a new style. There was a more intimate style. And the person, the personalities of those performers were very defined more than their material was. They were recognizable by their convictions and their styles, not that much colder, more quotable than the regular. I don't think. Someone said to us, Jack, pass it to Dicky and I went first and The Tonight Show. He says, whatever it is you guys do. No one's going to steal it. And now it applied to Bob Newhart with an ACIS. No one is going to steal. You see people saying I stole off New Hartline. Well, pretty much not. George Gobel had that too early. Time was an attitude comic with a lot of air and lot of space. Was my motivation. And when I got into comedy originally.

Interviewer: What about. Tell me about Bob's album. And what was. If you recall when you when that broke.

Tommy Smothers: That album was, you know, in the 60s, comedy albums were a big thing. They became number one records. And there was a new Martin Cosby and the Smothers Brothers and VanMeter. And the other phone guy Forgettin was. Oh, and Shelly Berriman. Bob Newhart. And there's a lot of good comedy you could listen to. And when Bob Newhart came out, yes, he started laughing. And it wasn't politically driven, it was just genuinely, genuinely funny with that wonderful hesitation that people are inclined to like. We don't hear enough of it because it's. Most comedy, today's material driven, an attitude driven, kind of mean spirited and his wasn't, and that was the charm of it. And it was a charm of Jack Benny, also known.

Interviewer: What does the stammer do. Why is that so funny?

Tommy Smothers: Well, I I mean, Jack Benny did that little bit, too, and with a Jimmy Stewart is there's something so human about it that most people relate to an underdog to the little guy. And. We all have a little trouble expressing ourselves in that whole thing. Just when I was a little bit to make it good something some to try to do, an imitation of me, a stutter. I said I never stuttered. I there would be hesitations in trying to get the words out. Certainly wasn't fluid. But he didn't. Bob never talked and use big words in. Well, I. I was 20 and I was always trying to interrupt that other person just and I'm not I'm not a good I, I don't do impressions either. But now there's that. And that charm of every man. That's what gets through, because we all are a little inarticulate. And we do admire people who are fluent in. Eloquent in their expressions, but we do tend to snuggle up to the people who are more like we would be trying to.

Interviewer: He always distinguished between the stuttering, the stammer.

Tommy Smothers: Oh, he did. Yeah. He didn't. He called it a stammer, not a study. That's good. Stammer know.

Interviewer: So talk about his his early variety show. He had that variety show in 1961.

Tommy Smothers: Oh, was that 1961? My. You never invited us on that, we never on a show. I remember seeing it not very often because we were out there working all the time. So. In the case of a lot of comedians, you know, we didn't get to see too much of it because you're doing 200 dates a year on the road and you don't get to see too much a television show. It was I remember George Gobel had a variety show, the sitcom that was early. I got to seize some of those and. Well, what works about Bob's variety show is Bob. And then you're just fortunate if you have good production around you. And people understand what you're doing. And since, Bob, I probably I think he did sketches, too. Which was probably the first time he started putting words in the other people's mouths. And he was making up some. He was made for a sitcom. He had just absolutely walks off from his. Phone bed. Just steps right in. They write those parts and. And since he was a great listener anyway and they never overwrote for him, they allowed him to be the reactor in my first sitcom. They just wrote reams of stuff for me and gave my brother any hardly anything was just the opposite of what they should have done because I like to be a reactor to at the time I wasn't. So I'm so envious of his ability to have that early in his career, to be that profound listener, a comedic listener and responder like Mary Tyler Moore, mostly listening and responding, which is which we'd like to see in television. There's a theory I had let me shoot my brother myself or we'd have two people talking to be crotch shots, one in one face over the shoulder the other. And the decision about when to cut to the other one don't always cut. Always be on the person. This that Allyson's a response. Don't talk to don't be on the guys talking. If it gets a response, go to the respond because you get to hear it. So it became a kind of rule of thumb and we started suddenly started to edit our stuff different and they'd be on me. I go in the editing room, we, you know, be on deck because he's the one that's listen. That's where the because they're hearing me anyway, if I'm doing something does not listen response and stand the speaker. So they would stand Bob a lot because he was six.

Interviewer: What about with your show when it came on? The Smothers Brothers knew what was happening. TV comedy at that time, was it was it pushing me starting to push the envelope a little bit more?

Tommy Smothers: When we got into tell it, when the Smothers Brothers went on the air. In 19, with our sitcom, a 1966, 67, 67, we started the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Nothing was happening. There was not there was no one pushing the envelope yet. And we just slowly started pushing it a little bit based on our experience and our sitcom, which was vapid. I had no no reason to exist except to look at personalities. That was was terrible, was a struggle. I said if I ever get another show, Elise is going to be content and we're going to have something in it. Even if it's facts, if it's a sketch about Columbus, it can be some facts in there. I be. And pretty soon the Vietnam War was around, so we started reflecting some of that and reflecting voter registration and. NASA was taking place, so there's a lot of stuff happening. It just started bubbling to the top when we had a television show, so we started reflecting that and then got incredibly strong response, negative and positive. A lot of positive response. But from the powers that be negative response, because censorship in itself is a basis of not allowing others to hear a different point of view. It's not so much the censoring of the person speaking. It's the censoring of people being able to hear. So if we can do anything in this world and our Constitution is to add the First Amendment freedom, a hearing along with freedom of speech. So so censorship is denying the microphone to to expand the voice of dissent or criticism. And so we can like poster boys. And I'm sure, Bob, in all our contemporary that time are going, oh, man, look at that disaster. Oh, no, I can see Bob. Yeah. Well, Tom, I know you feel strongly about this, but don't you? I know you do. I should go. Well, I'm not going to go jump there. But I would be careful. Oh, you're off the air. Oh. There have been a good routine because I'm sure all my contemporaries can't look at you in a kamikaze at the time.

Interviewer: Do you think it was Bob in particular? Do you know sort of resistance to that? Because he's talked to at that time period in the late 60s?

Tommy Smothers: Well, he might. You know, Bob knows when it became a little more political, particularly the late 60s and 70s. Oh, he's on our show a couple of times. George Carlin was, I do not know, hippy dippy weather man. That's where his head was at in 1967, 68. He wasn't anywhere near where he became socially conscious and felt obligated to speak out. And that might have been long years for for Bob. But no careers are uninterrupted. They're not in any career. That's that hasn't. Longevity has some great depressions and holes where you kind of question what you're doing and maybe my time is over. But the real talents are ones that sustain good. Quality comedy and quality art and talent. Well, it goes with a character, if they can sustain, they always have a career. And I'm sure he might have thought there was a lot of people in music during the 60s. I mean, rock n roll took over the Beatles and all the sudden these wonderful groups. No one's buying the records. The cycle cycles come around.

Interviewer: Do you think there is a reason? That's part of the reason that. He didn't hit again until the 70s as a.

Tommy Smothers: That might have been his reemergence within the next series of sitcoms. I think just the natural things that happen around you influence what you're doing. I mean, Jack Jones, when the great singers and I listen, the Beatles come in, no one is missing that kind of music. You know, in a sense, a popular big record sales and stuff. So that might've been a part of it. But. We we get distracted by sometimes new, bizarre and sometimes disgusting and, you know, like watching and we go we get distracted for a while in a career. Always a good career sustains it. And I think he's had an incredible credibility. Thoroughly sitcoms. He had 12 just added names as Bob Newhart shows that he's there and he's here and he's because he was so good at it. And he he he can outlive all kinds of trends. So that's a sometimes things go a little slower, but that's a that's the nature of a career. I mean, it's happened to Betty Davis and all of and all the great actors have had their ups and downs. And so that's just it. And I hope he's not whining about that because it's such a simple little depression in an otherwise uninterrupted, successful career.

Interviewer: Now, there's not too much. Talk about when you had him on your show, though. What do you remember about how you wanted to use him? Because, again, you were pushing.

Tommy Smothers: Well, we were at the Smothers Brothers pushing on. Basically by us and by our sketches, we never would invite a guest on our show and ask him to take a position. We always ask, what would you like to do? And they'd say, well, what would you like me to do? I thought, well, you have a particular thing, hunk, that you'd like to do, and that's what you do. When is Pete Seeger on the show? So what would you like to do? I like to sing waist deep in the big money of a highly political thing. Was Joan Baez so different people would bring what they wanted to the show and we were their hosts and therefore we. And Bob was does what he always does kills knocks him dead, makes everybody feel good. And there was never a pressure for someone to reflect ah ah positions.

Interviewer: So even though even if he was talking about the Leena's, his comedy still worked on the audiences at the.

Tommy Smothers: On our show. Oh, yeah. Good comedy. I mean, during the time in 1968 as 67, 68, 69, when talk about lean years for George Burns and Jack Benny, their shows were no longer on the air. They were in their 60s, known as particularly great reverence. But it was not. This is not the hot acts means them all the time. We bring them on. Oh, gosh. And they were very available. And so there's points in everybody's career where you're available and you show up to do what you can do. And we had we had oh, there was one performance by. Liberace, we had Liberace on the show always hiring him at the time. And he was wonderful. And but you expected of him. When you're a new kid on Block on the Block, the first is a car. That's great because it's fresh and new. And my brother and I were as good as we've ever been. And then people said, yeah, that's good. Of course, that's what you're supposed to be. So. Bob Newhart was. Always good. And. And it didn't matter what didn't matter who weather, what the trends were going on. And then you look back at your career and now the is gone. I can't live on this all, but I have been doing this for 50 to 48, 50 years already. And you look back and you see a few bumps here in a few spots there. And it's really hard to know when you when you're hot and you're not just kind of envelops you and then it kind of fades away and there it is again. And pretty soon there's a and there's a lifetime of achievement in comedy.

Interviewer: How did you get this? I will. I wanted to ask you, oh, tell me, Lorenzo, music. Rule. Where'd that come from? He ended up. He wrote something for Bob, I think. Also ended up creating this.

Tommy Smothers: Oh the doorman?Lorenzo Music, whose name was Jerry Music and. Was a Subaru or something like that? Is religion. I think it was anything and Jerry and Myrna. He and his wife were folksingers. He played banjo very well. And I ran into them. And I was a collector of of people. And I was a Mason Williams and. And Steve Martin's on his banjo pickers and players. And that's why I brought in Pat Paulson. If I liked Bill, I'll put him on as a writer or put him on the spot. So I brought Jerry music Lorenzo on his show Be a writer because I loved what he did on onstage with his wife. And I. I love that kind of deadpan delivery, which I'm sure Bob kind of liked to, because that's kind of where he is at. He's always under, never over, under. So. Lorenzo wrote on our show for, I guess, four to three years and all the writers on our show went on to do very good things. And we were left in the trash heap of remembrances at 10 years of our dark ages. But Lorenzo was a and I was good. I was so tickled when because I thought one of the best things I ever did was find talent. And I was very generous with particular with other comics and stuff that put him on the show because of how I was making it good. Because after your show was over, who was he? Can you. You were great. That reflects on you. So. So Lorenzo was a picker, a singer, and went on to be the voice of Garfield. And also, we did that, the elevator operator. Was it called the what.

Interviewer: Mr. Carlin?

Tommy Smothers: I forget the. And then he had his own set as an elevator.

Interviewer: Mr. Carlin. But didn't he? Right. He wrote something for space, especially for Bob on your show.

Tommy Smothers: Oh, I did know that. Is that what happened?

Interviewer: Yeah, I think he wrote the air traffic controller piece.

Tommy Smothers: So, you know, when you're doing your sheepskin, there's a lot of elements going on. Yeah. Not on top volunt. Would you try to put the right people in place in the connections happen? So I don't remember. I don't remember exactly how that came about. But that's that's how that happened was the story. I don't I don't recall.

Interviewer: What about Bob's Vegas? Activity, did you ever bump into each other and.

Tommy Smothers: No.

Interviewer: Did I ask you how you met?

Tommy Smothers: So first time we met Bob was. We were in St. Louis. I believe he had just gotten married, Ginny and I'd just gotten married. And so it truly wasn't. To me, we look the same age as five years old and or something like that, not much, but that's we're talking was a. He was he was very big at the time, and we were just we were starting to really make a lot of noise. That was sixty to sixty one sixty two, I think it was maybe sixty three anyway, was around that time. And I was I was a fan of his then, not as near as sophisticated observations that I make now, but I just liked what he did. I couldn't analyze it. And. And we. My wife at that time and Jenny, we got together, had a drink and remember, just chit chatting and comics have a tendency to. As a cross paths to tip our hats to each other and say, hey. I wish I could spend more time. I envy Don Rickles all the time. He gets to spend with with Bob. And we've done some shows with Bob on the road performance things. I've done a couple of shows with Don Rickles, not one show with Don. I sit there having a drink with him after the show and I'm talking and he says, because, God, you remind me of Bob because this was some naive observation, I think what was a totally different style. And there's something about you, miss. But I just I think it's been so neat to hang out with these guys, and we were but kind of isolated. We will get our thing. And then when we're off the air, we went went out of Hollywood because it's so hard to avoid people. I mean, for people to avoid us with their eyes, it was kind of like, too bad it happened. And. So we've had three or four shows along the winner, and we are we're at our forty fifth here now and Bob's and his 50 second I guess. And there's a lot of adult entertainers in their 60s that are doing above 60. They're doing very well. And the longevity in the music, rock and rollers in their 60s, in the comics in their 60s and 70s are doing very well, is a nice complement to the quality of those people.

Interviewer: Are you surprised that Bob is one of the ones to still be playing to these sold out audiences?

Tommy Smothers: It didn't surprise me at all. Does surprise me that Bob still working out there. People have a great fondness for him. We were fortunate to grow up in a time in our television careers when there was not this plethora of cables and choices. There was three networks. So the impression was made deeply on our fans. Although they're all getting a little older and grayer now, baby boomers. But I don't think we're ever gonna have those those kind of deep impressions on people who are going to be more fleeting. Seinfeld show. I mean, what a huge show that was. But I know I was gonna have the same impression that Newhart had back in that earlier time when it was even huger. Audiences in an agreement on our taste were in agreement and all those kind of things.

Interviewer: When you when you first met him, did you have an impression that he was different than his stage persona?

Tommy Smothers: I I've only meet Bob Newhart, that's who he is with us. Well, that's just there's. As is as close as you get. I think we like meeting John Wayne. He talks the same way. And Bob is in exactly the same. And Tim Conway, the same. Tim and I started off it on that Steve Allen show with Steve Allen was a great collector, a great lover of music and jazz and comedians. He had like ten or fifteen comedians writing on his show, and some would only get to put a hand to a thing. I mean, it was Tom Conway then. He had a changed name to Tim and we all had our little bits and roll, you know, 22, 21, 22 years old. You're getting a chance at that time and. But you don't know. Not Tim. It's hard to even talk to him, just like in the early days of talking to Jonathan Winters, you know. He was always on. And Tim finally got married. He was just talking like a person. And he just kind of just always and I'm committing to do that to me. So finally, we've actually had a real conversation at the very end. And he went to one of my favorites of all time as Tim to Tim. And there's a nice group of people that I admire their comedy. At this point in time.

Interviewer: Would Bob ever when you first met him. Ever did he ever talk about how his show had gone?

Speaker Not really. When you come on this show, our performance is good. And you do it enough like a Tim Conway and Harvey, Tim and Harvey, you're out there doing shows and we keep crossing cross and see them. You were just there last week or they're coming in next week with us. Say hi to Tamai, Harvey and hi to Bob. And all that stuff is kind of neat out there. But when you've been when you been working a long time to get your craft down pretty good, then you'll invariably probably complain that maybe the lights or the sound wasn't good. So you had a problem. Didn't quite get the reaction you wanted to, but it's pretty well you at this point, your career, you've got it down pretty good and can take some risks since and and improvidently bit. But you've got a pretty solid.

Interviewer: You were talking about when we were on the phone, we talked about a little bit about how his appearance in. It's just the way he looked when he came out, oh, expect.

Tommy Smothers: First memory of Bob Newhart was the buttoned down mind of Bob Newhart. It was his first album and it was an accountant didn't order anything. He looked like an accountant. And he looked white bread. I mean, he probably is one of the few people isn't black or Jewish who is still a comedian succeeding. There's very few gentiles out there of Con-Way. Here's the other one that basically. So he's a strange you get. And that was a kind of a comfortable thing because you really didn't expect that much. And so as and when he started talking, he met your expectations and would suddenly real you. And so you were you were laughing. So there was no certainly then stunned you with PowerMan when he came out of a visual like Lenny Bruce or Mort Sahl. You know, they came out of this where they are these defined styles that came out and just came under a coat and tie. And talk. Talk to you.

Interviewer: Because even funnier, because it's so surprising.

Tommy Smothers: I don't know if he's funny. I think that. What you wear can make you feel comfortable. Steve Martin. Started on our show. We had a couple. His first television appearance performance on our show. He tried Vegas. He tried himself until he put on the suit. And all of a sudden the same act with a suit became. So I guess what you wear can make a difference. It's certainly defined his defined that character. And. My brother and I, we wear tuxedos because it's what you see it, you forget it, it's probably the most nondescript outfit you can wear. If you're not looking at it all the time, you just forget about it. And Bob always wear a coat and tie. And that was what he wore, not even just his clothes, just because it was his accounts demeanor. Just just strictly very, very seldom smiled a little. Buster Keaton in him, you know, in a sense. And. It was just, you know, comedic styles are hard to define and we can we can take them apart and we can look at them through a microscope and turn them upside down and look at. And when you get it all, you get off to it that there's a few things, it's stick out in your mind. And it's basically their delivery and their timing and their and how they touch our funny bone in our hearts. And that's not much more than.

Interviewer: Thank you. Thank you. The tone. Tommy Smothers. Fifteen seconds.

Tommy Smothers
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-3j3901zz69, cpb-aacip-504-6t0gt5fz6p
"Tommy Smothers, Bob Newhart: Unbuttoned." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 14 Apr. 2005,
(2005, April 14). Tommy Smothers, Bob Newhart: Unbuttoned. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Tommy Smothers, Bob Newhart: Unbuttoned." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). April 14, 2005. Accessed May 20, 2022


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