The Everett Collection

There was a time when no one knew Rowan & Martin

Comedy duos have been a staple in classic comedy ever since the vaudeville era in the 1920s and '30s. The best comedy duos have come and gone, but only a few were as memorable as Dan Rowan and Dick Martin.  

Many classic TV fans consider Rowan and Martin to be two of the most successful, innovative and downright hilarious talents of their time.

It's been over 50 years since Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In first aired on NBC in 1967, and people still can't get their classic one-liners out of their heads. 

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In was a groundbreaking sketch comedy show that was hosted by Rowan and Martin. The series, which featured all sorts of talent, was known for its fast-paced, innovative format and irreverent humor.

The series also featured a wide range of guests, hitting almost every fandom in the country at the time. With everyone from key political figures like Richard Nixon to Sammy Davis. Jr and Cher; everyone wanted a chance to be on one of the country's funniest TV shows.

However, according to a 1967 interview with Evening Vanguard, the two comedy legends were once just two comedy regulars.

"There was a time," Martin began. "when people thought Rowan and Martin was a detergent."

Rowan and Martin had been working together since the 1950s. They graduated from performing at small shows in tiny towns to having a hit series with their names on it. "Dan Rowan happens to be the best straight man in the business," Martin said. "George Burns, Bud Abbott, they were caricatures, not listeners or reactors. Dan's the best stuffy bore I know."

"My role in the team is to be the best well-intentioned but not always correct authority," Martin continued. 

It didn't take long for people to start recognizing the talents of Rowan and Martin. Laugh-In saw big success and provided the duo with their big break. Martin credited their success to the type of humor and the changing TV landscape.

"There seems to be a creeping irreverence sneaking into the tube these days," Martin said. "Look at the Smothers Brothers and their irreverent humor. Look at W.C. Fields as the new idol of the younger generation. Look at Bogart. Very big with the kids."

Although the duo used Laugh-In's success to propel them further in their careers, they were the first to admit that fame and money wasn't everything. 

"But what's fame, anyway," Martin said. "We bumped into Bob Newhart the other night and we said 'Gee, Bob. You're doing so great.' He said 'Sure, I got into a restaurant now and the head waiter says, 'Ah, yes, we have a fine table for you Mr. Newkirk.'"

Whether people thought they sounded like a detergent brand or not, the duo worked hard for what they had.

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