In 1969, a summer replacement was needed for “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” and some brain(s) came up with the idea of a corn-fed version of “Laugh-In.” Featuring the residents of Kornfield Kounty, it was called “Hee Haw” and was hosted by Buck Owens and Roy Clark. It was a smash. And now five of its 55-minute episodes are available in a set of 3 DVDs from Time Life with the title “The Hee Haw Collection.”
The format of each show consisted of an introduction by Owens and Clark, a string of horrible jokes, and nine country and western numbers. The singers heard in this collection are Grandpa Jones, The Hagers, Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Gordie Tapp, Donna Fargo, Tommy Cash, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Charlie Rich, Ramona Jones, Dottie West, Susan Rae, and Hank Williams Jr.
Never a fan of this kind of music, I found the numbers pleasant and after a while hard to distinguish from one another. On the other hand, jokes like
She: Sorry I ran over your hog. I’ll replace it.
He: You know you can’t. You ain’t fat enough
do make you guffaw because of their sheer awfulness. My favorite is the one about the man who was so fast that he could turn off a bulb and get into bed while it was still light. Okay, not exactly Oscar Wilde but it was not intended to be. There are also some clever cartoon characters in the same scenes as the humans, a device used mostly to emphasize the badness of the joke. Cute.
I tried to get the names of the comic characters but they were quickly named at the end of each episode with no printed cast list. Wikipedia has a long list of all those who appeared over the years and the reader will have to settle with that.
The five programs included were aired (in the order given) on 12-17-69, 10-16-71, 2-24-73, 12-31-69, and 1-28-70. There are also bonus features of interviews for those interested. The last disc also has “All-Time Favorites,” “Hee Haw Classics,” and “Special Comedy Selections.”
All in all, recommended for those who like the music and chortle over cornfield humor. But it never pretends to be more than it is and they are all so genial that one can just switch off one’s mind and enjoy.