The Real Reason Tommy Smother's Mother Didn't Love Him Best? He's The Real Dick Brother!


I recently posted a Penn Jillette video where the great showman explains how he and his partner Teller found inspiration in a most-unlikely source: a live performance by bizarre country singer David Allan Coe.

Above is another fantastic bit from Penn about the time that Tommy Smothers, one of his idols, ripped into him for appearing on Glenn Beck's Fox News Show.

Smothers, who in my opinion is unfunny as a comedian and untalented as a folk singer (and vice versa), never tires of talking about his overrated TV show was kicked off the air for political reasons back in the Vietnam days and how that was an affront to free speech, yadda yadda yadda.

And yet he seems incapable of appreciating anything the Penn actually had to say on his various appearances on Glenn Beck. Or any sense of how people might, you know, engage in conversation and exchange of ideas rather than just smug self-righteousness. Maybe that's the real reason Tommy's mother loved his brother best.

Via Instapundit and

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  1. Fortunately, you didn’t diss his yo-yo skillz.

    Also, no mention of their mid-’60s Bewitched-esque sitcom?

  2. Smothers sounds like a jerk, but for him to be “unfunny” and “untalented” in the same post where Jillette is “the great showman” seems a bit reflexive.

    I would love to see Jillette replace Alex Trebek and thereby complete the libertarian takeover of iconic gameshow hosting duties.

  3. My guess is that Tommy Smothers is the type leftist who like to me all the time that “the world isn’t black and white” when it comes to having a principled approach to govt. and life. For a group with such gray view of the world, they sure are an intolerant bunch when it comes to anything outside of the gray box.

    Maybe we should just get it over with and start handing out the green and purple scarfs. At least that way it’ll be honest.

    1. “…likes to tell me…

  4. “Above is another fantastic bit from Penn…”

    Huh? I just wasted 8 minutes of my life listening to Penn Jillette talk about why he goes on talk shows? Not so interesting.

    Only noteworthy for the few times Penn actually seemed to get somewhat vaguely close to choking up. Never thought I’d see that.

    1. It’s almost as boring as the AOL Chat between Marcel Marceau, Teller and the chick from The Piano.

  5. Did he get hit in the head with a hammer? Seriously, it looks like a sledgehammer left an indentation on his forehead.

    1. It’s clearly a lobotomy scar. Give him credit for his show of emotion.

  6. Can anyone, even their fans, name anything in the past forty fucking years that the Smothers Brothers have done that his been memorable or relevant? Given the fact Tommy Smothers seems to be calling for ostracism of a TV show would indicate that not only is he irrelevant and washed-up but also a huge fucking hypocrite.

  7. And Penn also mentions that he was asked by Smothers if he (Penn) would go on a show hosted by Hitler, because Beck is just as bad, obviously. So Tommy Smothers can also add stupidity to irrelevancy and hypocrisy on his list of “qualities”.

  8. Penn should become a regular contributor to Reason magazine.

    1. Noooo! He as a regular contributor to Byte magazine for a while, and all he ever did was yammer on and on and on about Uma Thurman.

      1. Byte magazine… March 1998…reinventing the web. Netware 3.5…ah, good times.

  9. Penn should become a regular contributor to Reason magazine.

  10. Sorry, Nick, but we will have to disagree about the Somothers’ talent just as we disagree about Lenny Bruce’s. Just whom from the fifties and sixties DO you like as a comedian? What is your view of Mad Men?

    Sounds like Tommy was being a real jerk, but throughout history, real jerks, often enough, could make people laugh. I listened to their comedy albums when new, and watched first-run episodes of the Smothers Brothers’ TV show; I found — and STILL find — their bits to be funny, interesting, and entertaining. Not every routine or sketch worked, of course, but it was certainly a show I looked forward to seeing every week. That is more than I can say about, for example, Bullshit!, even though I like Penn and Teller and have enjoyed several episodes of the BS! show, which I hope continues indefinitely if Showtime hasn’t “Smothered” them yet.

    1. I’ll go with Dick Gregory as funnier than both Smothers and Bruce put together. And clearly better informed about nutrition.

      1. I’ve never heard Dick Gregory say anything remotely funny.

  11. Jillette letting himself get Godwinned into questioning the validity of making an argument to Glenn Beck’s audience. Wonderful.

    Generally, the more I see a person on youtube, the less respect I have for them.

  12. The Smothers Brothers were competent folk singers and great comedians. That was over four decades ago.

    Tommy Smothers is an old man now, and since he doesn’t hold office or otherwise laud over us, we should extend him a little deference and courtesy.

  13. The one funny thing about the Smothers Brothers is their name. Because it rhymes. And rhymes are funny. There’s a great spoken-word part in some Tom Waits song where Tom acts out being at his apartment and trying to score with a hipster chick who wants to hear some jazz. He looks through his record collection and says, “I don’t have any jazz; I got, uh, Smothers Brothers?”

    1. That’s a unique sense of humor you got there Tim.

  14. David Henderson on the Smothers Brothers:….._spin.html

  15. I don’t think i could go on a talk show hosted by Hitler.

    But I am glad there is someone like Penn who could and would defend the things i believe in while he was on it.

    1. Yeah, just imagine being interviewed by a pile of charred bones. (Conspiracy about the actual disposition of Schicklgruber’s corpse aside.) Booooriiingg!

      1. Everyone’s always in favor of saving Hitler’s brain. But when you put it in the body of a great white shark, ooh, suddenly you’ve gone too far.

  16. Please support my campaign in 2012. I can run this country from the grave better than the bozo sitting in the oval office today.

  17. Why would anybody turn down a chance to be on a talk show hosted by Hitler? He’s, like, more famous than Jesus; you know what kind of ratings he would get? Seriously, you wouldn’t do it, just out of curiosity, just to be able to tell people you’ve chatted with Hitler? I’m sure he wouldn’t let you get a word in edgewise, but still: He’s Hitler for crying out loud.

    1. Why does this sound like dialogue out of Natural Born Killers?

      “It’s hard to beat the king.”

    2. Seriously. Like what if he hosted a vegetarian cooking show? You could have a yelling match over “sauerkraut vs. kim chee”. How awesome would that be?!

  18. Tommy Smothers: one class act!

  19. This video is not available in your country [Canada] due to copyright restrictions.


    1. Proxy?

  20. This video is not available in your country [Canada] due to copyright restrictions.


  21. I cannot hate on the Smothers Brothers. Or Penn Jillette. And I like that Penn really, really thought about what Tommy said to him. You know, like he didn’t just have a knee jerk reaction. Isn’t that cool?

  22. “It’s a drag getting yelled at by your idol.”

    Perhaps it’s time to get a new idol.

  23. Penn was close, but the complete answer to the Hitler talk show question is “yes, I would go on the show and tell the truth, while you would have us all sit in principled silence while the jews, homosexuals and other “undesirables” were rounded up and sent to the ovens.”

    1. not that I am saying Glen Beck is anything at all like Hitler, of course, just pointing out the depths of stupidity in TS’s question.

  24. Saw a Jack Benny repeat a couple months ago that the Smothers Brothers were on. Tommy Smothers seemed like the Larry Fine to brother Dick’s Moe Howard after Shemp kicked the bucket – Dick was the brains behind the business and Tommy had some talent but would be totally lost without his brother; he played the happy-go-lucky nitwit mostly because he couldn’t play anything else.

    1. I believe that the truth was exactly opposite that. Tommy was the brains of the outfit.

    2. That was exactly the Smothers’ routine. Suave one and goofy one.

      It’s an act. I don’t know how much you can tell from an act. (E.G., I don’t believe Martin was smarter than Lewis.)

      It’s also why I always mixed up the Smothers Brothers with Rowan & Martin.

  25. The thing I find hard to fathom is why Penn looks up to Tommy Smothers?


  26. I think the real issue that Tommy took with Penn appearing on Beck is that it seems like an attempt to legitimize what Beck’s saying. To disagree with Beck is to see some sort of logic in what he is saying.

  27. untalented as a folk singer

    All you had to say was ‘folksinger’, the ‘untalented’ part is then assumed.

  28. Penn has gone on Beck and complimented anti-abortionists for screaming at women going into clinics for “using the marketplace of ideas.” He didn’t choose anti-death penalty activists as his example, he choose anti-abortion activists which reeks of pandering to Beck’s audience. That video is pure spin with Penn throwing his idol under the bus so Penn doesn’t have to re-examine a position that’s designed not to spread truth but to reach a new audience and sell tickets to his Vegas magic show.

  29. When I was 10 I figured out I was gay and thought Tom Smothers was hot…go figure???? maybe that’s what happened to Penn

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