I am very stressed out right now.
There are just so many things going on that are out of my control--see yesterday's Rant for one example--that when I come home from work, all I want to do is eat dinner and go to sleep.
Of course, that isn't entirely possible.
The TV is on, and that magical invention has given me some solace for my entire nearly 60 year existence.
I have always been a fan of TV--my mother says that when I was a toddler, I would jump up and down in the crib when she had on "American Bandstand"--and over the next many decades of my existence, I have always turned to television to not only entertain me, but also to make things right in my world.
Lately, when I have come home from work and eaten dinner, yes, the news is on the TV in our living room, and I do listen to what is going on in our world.
But once I am done, it is off to the bedroom, where part of my preparation for my later sleep is watching at least a few minutes of "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In," the groundbreaking 1967-1973 NBC show that the Decades channel is running twice a night.
I rarely get to see the second showing, but the first one--which begins at 6 p.m. EST--at least gets a few minutes glance each weeknight.
It truly was a groundbreaking show, read the audience well, and became a fixture on Monday night in the late 1960s to early 1970s.
With a talented cast of comics, actors and dancers who were all on the cusp of stardom before appearing on this show--and some of whom became huge stars because of their exposure on the show--"Laugh-In" ended up killing the variety show as we know it, and enabled a program like "Saturday Night Live" to exist.
I also relax by listening to records--yes, the vinyl kind--and part of that relaxation is digitizing the huge stock load of records that I have. It is time consuming but oh so relaxing, at least to me.
So how do I bring together my love of "Laugh-In" and my love of records?
It is pretty simple, because "Laugh-In" spawned a cottage industry of show-related recordings, several made by the cast members themselves and others made by performers not associated with the show, but who were looking to cash in on the show's popularity.
That is why there are numerous recordings and versions of "Here Comes the Judge," which became a standard skit in the early years of the show, with chitlin' comedian Pigmeat Markham leading the charge.
He had his own hit single "Here Comes the Judge," which reached No. 19 in 1968, but there are at least a few other versions of this song that I know about, by such performers as Shorty Long (his single went to No. 8 in 1968); the Magistrates (!); the Buena Vistas; and Pete Rodriguez. I am sure there were others.
Markham was one of three cast members who had hit singles related to their appearance on the show. Late in the show's run, Jud Strunk had "Daisy a Day," which reached No. 14 in early 1973, when the show was on its last legs.
But, of course, the biggest hit to come from the show was by Tiny Tim, who warbled "Tip-Toe Thru' the Tulips With Me" to No. 17 in 1968. He made a tremendous impression on the viewing public, and enjoyed a long and interesting recording career based on his appearances on the show.
The highest charting album related to the show by one of its performers was by Lily Tomlin, whose "This Is a Recording" reached No. 15 in 1971, and she put out other LPs including her characters from the show.
Other cast members recorded albums and singles which made little impression on the charts, including Judy Carne, Gary Owens, Goldie Hawn, Joanne Worley, Donna Jean Young and Arte Johnson and Ruth Buzzi.
And there were two cast albums generated by the popularity of "Laugh-In." One featured the entire cast--including Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, who had released a couple of comedy albums on their own prior to "Laugh-In"--the other the entire cast less Rowan and Martin.
There are probably dozens of other "Laugh-In" related and inspired-by recordings, and I am still digging them up as we speak.
By the way, Decades is now showing the rarely seen fifth season of the show--with some new cast members, including the show's first child performer, Moosie Dreier--and I have great hopes that they will show the completely forgotten and never seen since it first aired sixth season, with Strunk, Young and an entirely new cast but including Rowan, Martin, Owens and Buzzi.
Let's see if they get that far, but right now, I am enjoying the ride, both TV-wise and recording-wise.