Wednesday, 9 September 2015


My obituary of Judy Carne, the 'sock it to me' girl on Laugh-In, is online at the Guardian now: you can link to it here, and it should be in the paper paper soon. It was maybe the saddest obit I've had to write; I recall Carne as someone closer to Julie Andrews than, say, Twiggy, which was the kind of thing Laugh-In was looking for from Goldie Hawn, as well as Carne. But it always seemed to me that she was underused and that 'sock it to me', like much of Laugh-In was a lame joke that got lamer as it went along.

I always found the show too much like a studio executive's idea of what young hip people should be, and although the quick-cutting format was chaotic and different, the humour was largely mainstream and safe. Rowan and Martin themselves I described as stand-ins for the TV audience, but they were also playing those executives. And I meant the word 'leering'. The British influence on Laugh-In was strong; in turn it influenced many shows, from Monty Python to Saturday Night Live (Lorne Michaels worked on Laugh-In).

Oddly, their more 'sophisticated' competition, the Smothers Brothers, who courted actual controversy with network censors, were very much like Rowan and Martin in the sense of Tommy playing the Jerry Lewis character, but they were folk singers, not lounge lizards.

You can see the way Judy Carne was displayed on screen going back to her earliest work, and there was always a sense of unsettledness, perhaps desperation, about her. I had originally written that the divorce from Reynolds was a tabloid sensation in 1966; it may have done more for Reynolds' career than Carne's. I probably should have mentioned that she did do a 25th anniversary Laugh-In show in 1993--she wasn't a total recluse or anything like that. And I do wish the Guardian had kept my ending:  'I was a Sixties flower-child who refused to grow up,' was how she characterised herself; sadly her Sixties fame drew less on her talent than on that nature. RIP

No comments :