Ironically enough for an act built around the tensions of sibling rivalry, the Smothers Brothers were the longest-lived comedy team in history: originally a folk duo, the brothers tempered their childlike, irreverent musical humor with enough sly satire and subtle political commentary to earn both an ardent following from the counterculture and considerable backlash from more conservative quarters.
Tom born in 1937 and Dick born in 1939, first teamed together Professionally while attending San Jose State University. After a tenure in a folk group dubbed the Casual Quintet, the Smothers Brothers broke off as a duo in 1959. While their act initially consisted of straightforward folk tunes, audiences responded even more favorably to their between-song banter and gradually all of the brothers' material reflected their offbeat comic sensibility, a perennially wide-eyed worldview steeped in playful sibling rivalry primarily directed at Tom's supposed dull wit.
By the time of their 1961 live debut at the Purple Onion, the Smothers Brothers' act still skewed towards straight songs, and the comedic content of their performance resided primarily in the introductions to the musical performances. As indicated by its title, 1962's Top 40 hit "The Two Sides of the Smothers Brothers" reflected the dichotomy even more clearly. While one half of the record was devoted to serious, if lightweight, songs like "If It Fits Your Fancy" and "Stella's Got A New Dress," the remainder focused on comic numbers like "Cabbage" and "Chocolate," the latter penned by frequent accomplice Pat Paulson.
With 1963's "Think Ethnic," their transformation into pure comedy was complete. All of the songs were performed with tongues planted firmly in cheek, punctuated by breezy banter and light-hearted bickering. "Curb Your Tongue, Knave" followed later in the year and was the duo's biggest hit, falling just short of the Top Ten, while 1964's "It Must Have Been Something I Said" reflected their continued growth as performers capable of everything from love song send-ups to cracked history lessons.
Tom and Dick Smothers have been entertaining audiences all over the world for over 40 years. The contributions Tom and Dick Smothers have made to the world of entertainment throughout their career are so highly respected that the Museum of Broadcasting in New York produced a retrospective and seminar on their work, an honor not lightly accorded. Hollywood also honored them with a star on the noted Hollywood Walk of Fame.
They have been considered ahead of their time, masters of timing and practitioners of timeless comedy. Now as they mark over 40 years in show business, The Smothers Brothers have become legends, surpassing all other comedy teams in history.
There is not much left to be said about a career as celebrated and public as that of this talented twosome. For their abundant tributes, the Smothers Brothers are one of the most successful comedic teams in the history of entertainment. They have become an American Classic.