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Series / Fernwood Tonight

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Left to right: Barth Gimble and Jerry Hubbard.

"Tonight from Fernwood, Fernwood Tonight! Coming to you almost live!"

Fernwood Tonight (sometimes stylized as Fernwood 2 Night) is a satirical Talk Show parody that was created by Norman Lear in 1977 as the second spin-off of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.

Ostensibly broadcast from the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio, the show is hosted by Barth Gimble (Martin Mull), a leisure-suited Smug Smiler (who may or may not be evading extradition to Florida). Jerry Hubbard (Fred Willard) is the clueless announcer and co-host who always manages to say exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time. The show ran five nights a week in first-run syndication for a total of 65 episodes. The following year, it was retooled as America Tonight.


This show provides examples of:

  • After Show: The successor to Forever Fernwood, which was itself a successor to Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.
  • The Ditz: Announcer Jerry Hubbard embodies this trope (when a female guest discusses the subject of gynecology, Jerry interjects earnestly: "Have they found a cure for that yet?").
  • High Hopes, Zero Talent: In-universe, this applied to every "guest" who ever appeared on the show ... with rare exceptions.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: The house band, Happy Kyne and the Mirthmakers, whose playing brought new meaning to the word "adequate". In reality, the band members were all highly accomplished musicians; Happy Kyne was played by Frank De Vol (an arranger-conductor-composer for several well-known singers, movies and TV series) and one of the guitarists was Tommy Tedesco (a Los Angeles studio musician part of the Wrecking Crew).
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  • Lounge Lizard: Tony Rolletti (played by Bill Kirchenbauer) was a particularly cheesy (and pathetic) example who became a frequent guest.
  • Shout-Out: America Tonight aired on the UBS network.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Barth Gimble, who sees himself as the Tri-County Area's answer to Johnny Carson.