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The Variety Show

The Variety Show

When I was a kid in the early 70′s, Variety shows were on TV. I watched Sonny and Cher, Carol Burnett, The Smothers Brothers, Dinah Shore, Donny and Marie Osmond, Barbara Mandrell, Captain and Tennille, and Tony Orlando and Dawn. There were also many more before my time including Milton Berle, Ed Sullivan and George Burns & Gracie Allen.

The Variety show was made up of a variety of acts, especially musical performances and sketch comedy, and was normally introduced by a host. Other types of acts included magic, animals and circus acts, acrobatics, juggling and ventriloquism. The variety format made its way from Victorian era stage to radio to TV. Variety shows were very popular on television from its early days into the 1970s, and lasted into the 1980s, but are now reduced to the level of the occasional special.

Today we have Saturday Night Live that keeps to this format somewhat but it is certainly for adults only. The late night talk shows like The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman evolved from the variety show but it left prime time to late night. There is still the occasional variety show special but it’s usually at Christmas.

Maybe because I grew up on them but I would love to see a new variety show come back to prime time. They tried to bring Leno into prime time last year but his format was the same as The Tonight Show. They should get away from the celebrity interviews and just do skits and musical guests. Somewhere between  SNL and The Muppet Show.

People are definitely watching TV every night but all there is is 1 hr. dramas, 1/2 hr. comedies, and tones of reality shows. I’m sure there would be an audience for a 1 hr. weekly variety show. There are lots of young bands out there that could get exposure and bring a younger audience. You would have to find the right host though. ABC tried The Wayne Brady show but it didn’t take… or maybe they never gave it a good chance.

I know I would watch it but maybe I am they only 1 that wants to see that.

What do you think? Are you sick of the reality shows? Too many crime dramas out there? Tired of lame comedies?

Leave your comments and let’s start a ground swell!

Say Goodnight Gracie… Goodnight.


Hey guys! I’m a musician, songwriter, producer and manager of 2 kids in the entertainment biz. I an an aspiring author and film maker and spend my life at home in business with my wife and kids. This all happenes in Hollywood North and this is Hank’s Think Tank!

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