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Fall/Winter 2009

Funny Man

Comedian and Wine Country local Tom Smothers is back in the national spotlight.

By Janet Parmer

Tom Smothers compares the quirky comedy routine he does with his brother, Dick, to a fine wine improving with age.
Smothers, 72, of Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour fame, has been making people laugh for five decades—and continues to crisscross the country, with nearly 90 tour dates a year. Now, a new biography has him back in the national spotlight. Dangerously Funny: the Uncensored History of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour by NPR television critic David Bianculli, is due out in January.
“It’s a great life, getting people to laugh,” says Smothers, who visits a local hospital’s chemotherapy unit each week to entertain patients.
It’s also been a long road, however, to the comfortable life he has found in Wine Country, tending to his Remick Ridge Vineyards in Kenwood, which produces Cabernet Sauvignon, and spending quality time with wife, Marcy, and two teenagers, Riley Rose and Bo.
Despite the popularity of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, CBS dumped the duo in 1969 for being too political on topics such as the Vietnam War and racism. The career setback was an emotional blow, with the brothers enduring tough years when they couldn’t get an agent and theater owners refused to book them. Tom moved to Sonoma County in 1971 and later started the winery with his grandfather, while Dick initially retreated to Santa Cruz, and then moved to Florida.
Tom Smothers says their live show focuses on truth, morality, and never quitting, and describes it as “pretty intellectual.”
“It’s all based on timing, and 90 percent of it is improvisation. We sing a lot of songs. It’s like a vaudeville show,” says Smothers. “We’ll keep performing until our fans can’t get their walkers up the stairs. If it gets to a point where we can’t fill venues, we’ll wrap it up.”

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