40 Greatest Sketch-Comedy TV Shows of All Time

From Caesar to Schumer, 65 years of the Land Shark, the Chicken Lady and a bunch of Muppets

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11. 'Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In' (1968-1973)

Laugh-In managed to be silly (with slapstick and drag) and subversive (jokes about nerve gas and birth control) while running parallel to Vietnam, the assassinations of MLK and RFK, race riots and the Nixon era. Mixing a flower-power vibe with a jump-cut vaudeville framework, it made hippies hip and squares the perfect straight men. On the show's rapid-fire joke delivery, the L.A. Times observed producer George Schlatter instructing the writers: "Don't be usual. Don't be ordinary. Take a 20-second joke and cut it down to five seconds." Seen now, the show looks both dated and definitive of its time — a comedic and cultural time capsule featuring everyone from legends like Jack Benny and Milton Berle to next-gen stars like Lily Tomlin and Tiny Tim. Even Nixon himself came on in 1968 to appear and say, "Sock it to me?"

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