(NORFOLK, NE.) –Tom and Dick Smothers, better known as the Smothers Brothers, will be honored with the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award at the conclusion of the Great American Comedy Festival Saturday, June 18th.
The 13th comedy festival is Thursday through Saturday, June 16th-18th, at the Johnny Carson Theatre. All shows are at 7 p.m. except the /Sparklight Adults Only, Late Night Show Friday at 10:30 p.m. at The Stables in Norfolk.
The Great American Comedy Festival opens Thursday with the family Comedy Magic Show featuring three world-class magicians. The Friday Comedy Showcase welcomes David Koechner as headliner and four other stand-up comedians. The Smothers Brothers headline the Festival Gala Saturday night. Four other stand-up comedians will also take the microphone at the theatre Saturday night.
The 13th festival is presented by Nucor Steel Nebraska, Nucor Cold Finish Nebraska, Nucor Detailing Center, and Vulcraft Nebraska.
The Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award pays tribute to the impact Norfolk's favorite son had on comedy. The award honors individuals for their contributions to the world of comedy over the course of decades.
The Smothers Brothers join Dick Cavett, Bill Dana, Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, Jimmie “J.J.” Walker, Stephen Wright, David Steinberg, Kevin Pollack, Fred Willard, Robert Klein, Rich Little, and Paul Reiser as recipients of the prestigious Johnny Carson Comedy Legend Award.
The Smothers Brothers debuted their unique brand of humor at the Purple Onion in San Francisco in 1961. The two began performing together while college students at Santa Clara University. Their entertainment style set them apart from both music and comedy in the early 1960s.
The half dozen years that followed saw a string of hit albums, TV appearances and a brief sitcom, “The Smothers Brothers Show.” In February 1967, the curtain rose on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” on CBS as a mid-season replacement. The Comedy Hour immediately rose to number one and edged out the long-time leader, “Bonanza.”
“The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” established a beachhead for topical and satirical content and featured long-established stars and cutting-edge rock groups of the 1960s. That satire and controversy came with a price as they pushed the envelope for three seasons with political and anti-war content.
According to their biography, their success was cut short by White House pressure and a contrived firing by CBS. The brothers then took their show on the road for five decades, performing regularly to capacity audiences at concert venues throughout the country.
The Smothers Brothers chose to retire in 2010, but their induction into The National Comedy Center spurred their interest in returning to the stage. They consider connecting with audiences a priceless gift.
The Great American Comedy Festival opened in 2008 to honor the legacy of Norfolk’s favorite son, Johnny Carson, who was host of NBC’s “Late Night Show Starring Johnny Carson” for over 25 years. Carson retired on May 22, 1992.
This year’s festival is also made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. For tickets and information, visit www.greatamericancomedyfestival.com