May 10: A Smothers Brothers Hour
The following is an abbreviated list of the people whose career lineage can be traced back to Tom Smothers: Bill Maher. Jon Stewart. David Letterman. Stephen Colbert. Weird Al Yankovich. Norman Lear. Steve Martin. George Carlin. Lorne Michaels. Penn & Teller. The Dixie Chicks. The Who. Simon & Garfunkel. Yeah, that’s all. All were either launched or deeply inspired by Smothers and his pioneering work as creator and co-star of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour from 1966 to 1969. That landmark show, which was yanked from the air in its third season after constant battles with CBS censors, blazed the trail and set the standard for a mind-boggling list of innovative comedians and social commentators. Smothers and brother Dick Smothers are the subject of the brilliant new biography, “Dangerously Funny,” by author and frequent guest host of NPR’s Fresh Air, David Bianculli. The Smothers Brothers perform at the Orleans on May 15 and 16, so we chatted with Tom Smothers about all the famous people he helped launch – and those, like Bob Dylan and Steve Martin, who he didn’t quite “get.” Plus, of course, Smothers has a few thoughts on Vegas then and now.