Apparently so! Been reading this lengthy article examining the relationship between Richard Nixon and Laugh-In's head writer, Paul Keyes.
Keyes was responsible for writing Nixon's "sock it to me" bit that many say was key in getting the nation to vote for him in '68: "the impact of that five-second appearance is impossible to gauge: on one of the most popular TV shows in the nation, Nixon managed, in a single sentence, to convey more of a good-sport persona, and a sense of humor, than during most of the rest of his campaign".
The piece — published on WFMU's Beware of the Blog by Kliph Nesteroff — delves deep into the influence of the two most popular late-60s comedy shows (Laugh-In & Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour) and how the Nixon presidency affected them.
While both shows captured the sixties zeitgeist, Nesteroff explores how they both actually represented opposite sides of the spectrum. The Smothers' increasingly politically-aware stance — like featuring anti-war guests like Joan Baez and Harry Belafonte — got the show cancelled. (Indeed, Tom Smothers was the first name on Nixon's enemies list). But Laugh-In — despite its "reflection of the late sixties youth sensibility" — avoided anti-war sentiments with "vaudville bits".
The rest of the feature — once again I assure you: a great and lengthy read! — explores Nixon's close relationship with Laugh-In's right-wing head writer Keyes. The relationship began when Nixon appeared on TheJack ParrShow at the time of Nixon's disastrous 1960 presidential run (remember the death of the televised debate?) and eventually culminated into Keyes being involved in Nixon's successful 1968 run.
"Nixon said... that appearing on Laugh-In is what got him elected - and I believe that. And I've had to live with that," George Schlatter, creator of Laugh-In.
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