DVD Review: The Hee Haw Collection: Kornfield Klassics

Recently Amy Schumer has taken a beating in social media for allegedly stealing jokes for her HBO special at the Apollo Theater. She had a few punchlines that resembled moments from other comedian’s routines. Numerous clips on Youtube “exposed” her supposed thievery. People are out for blood because they believe that joke theft is a worse crime than giving babies lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan. Critics claim that comics who steal jokes don’t have long careers. Really? How do these people explain Hee Haw being on the air for 25 years? Buck Owens, Roy Clark and the countrified cast were performing jokes older then the routines used by Abbott and Costello. In 1971, Richard Pryor and George Carlin were pushing the boundaries of humor. The millions that tuned to CBS on Sunday nights just wanted a heavy dose of safe cornball humor with their country music on Hee Haw. The Hee Haw Collection: Kornfield Klassics has two episodes from the series’ final network season before its fruitful time in first run syndication.

The DVD features two episodes from the second season. Episode 45 features guest talent Roger Miller, Peggy Little and New York Yankee star Bobby Murcer. Miller does “Dang Me” and then the cast joins on on his massive hit “King of the Road.” In a great coincidence, guest of Hee Haw stayed at Roger Miller’s King of the Road Motor Inn. Miller was getting them toe tapping and then putting everyone to bed afterward. Even though this was a country show, they didn’t mind adapting folky rock to a Nashville/Bakersfield touch. The Hagers put their twin vocal twist on “Teach Your Children.” Buck Owens wraps up the show with Simon and Garfunkle’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Episode 48 brings on Loretta Lynn to perform “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Bill Anderson busts out “Wild Weekend.” The Hagers twang up CCR’s “Looking Out My Back Door.” Buck proves he’s not done with Simon and Garfunkle with his take on “Homeward Bound.”

The comedy routines are at their prime at this point with Junior Samples, Lulu, Archie Campbell, Minnie Pearl, Gordie Tapp, Grandpa Jones and Don Harron. The show was a bit of a countrified Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In with short sketches and jokes instead of drawn out bits. A secret of the show’s production was that they shot all the comedy routines for the season at the same time. So all the “PFFT! You Was Gone!” was knocked out at once. This technique really saved on the budget which allowed it to survive nicely in syndication the following year. The jokes weren’t that topical so it didn’t matter if they were told in September or April.

While it would be easy to think the comedy bits on the show were cribbed from menus at a family BBQ joints, turns out head writer for this era was Jack Burns. His name might not sound familiar to most, but he was George Carlin’s comedy partner. He played the short-lived deputy replacement for Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. He was a writer on The Muppet Show and Fridays. He hosted Saturday Night Live. You might recognize his voice from being one of the Crash Test Dummies in the PSAs and Sid the Squid on Animaniacs. While Hee Haw might not have been a glamorous gig, Burns took the job before the internet got ugly. He didn’t worry about being outed for stealing, “Did you hear about the girl who won the tight slacks? When she put a dime in her pocket, you could tell if it was heads or tales .”

Hee Haw takes us back to a simpler time when people could tell goofy jokes without fear of being persecuted by the comedy police. Enjoy the laughs and the music from Nashville ’71.

The video is 1:33:1 full frame. The series was shot on standard definition so the resolution reflects it. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The episodes sound really good especially during the performances.

No bonus features.

The Hee Haw Collection: Kornfield Klassics is two prime episodes from 1971.

Time Life presents The Hee Haw Collection: Kornfield Klassics. Starring: Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Lulu, Junior Samples and Grandpa Jones. Boxset Contents: 2 Episodes on 1 DVD. Released: February 9, 2015.