Throwback Thursday: “Subtly Titled, and 100% Fictitious”

MortFingerWEBA little something different for Throwback Thursday. In the 1970’s nobody could compete with NBC’s Tonight Show, and one of the things ABC tried was an umbrella show called Wide World of Entertainment (an attempt to capitalize on the success of Wide World of Sports). WWE was a grabbag: one week it might be a talk show with Jack Paar or Dick Cavett; another it might be suspense/horror stories produced on the cheap; or they might run a week of comedy shows.ABCWideWorld

One of the comedy offerings anticipated future programs by the likes of Jon Stewart and Colbert. ABC’s Comedy News was a satire of “happy talk” news teams, staffed by a grade-A cast of thespians and comics. The main crew: Andrew Duncan, comic actor Kenneth Mars, Fannie Flagg (author of Fried Green Tomatoes), Marian Mercer, and Anthony Holland (like Duncan an alumnus of the Second City comedy group). Some impressive names contributed bits and segments, including Bob and Ray, Dick Gregory, Mort Sahl, Joan Rivers, Richard Dawson, Robert Klein, and Stan Freberg.

Only four 90-minute shows were produced, but it’s hard to blame the producers for the short run since nothing much ABC put in that time slot could top The Tonight Show. It didn’t help that local affiliates worried that viewers would confuse the hijinks on Comedy News with their 11:oo pm newscasts. The shows have pretty much disappeared, never released in any home video format. But The Cable Gamer has obtained audio tapes of several episodes, and every now and then we’ll present a clip to lighten up your Throwback Thursday. Enjoy:

running time: 10:24

From Comedy News, originally aired 4 July 1973


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