Hee Haw was an American television variety show featuring country music and humor with fictional rural Kornfield Kounty as a backdrop. It aired on CBS from 1969 to 1971 before a 20-year run in local syndication. The show was inspired by Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, the major difference being that Hee Haw was far less topical, and was centered on rural culture and Country Music. Initially co-hosted by musicians Buck Owens and Roy Clark, the show was well known for its voluptuous, scantily clad women in stereotypical farmer's daughter outfits, its male stars Jim and Jon Hager, and the cornpone humor of its comedy sketches.
The appeal of Hee Haw was not limited to a rural audience. It was successful in all of the major markets, including New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Two rural-style comedians, already well known in their native Canada, gained their first major U.S. exposure on Hee Haw — Gordie Tapp and Don Harron (whose KORN Radio character, newscaster Charlie Farquharson, had been a fixture of Canadian television since 1952 and later appeared on The Red Green Show).
Other cast members over the years included: Roy Acuff, Cathy Baker, Billy Jim Baker, Barbi Benton, Jennifer Bishop, Archie Campbell, John Henry Faulk, Marianne Gordon (Rogers), the Hager Twins (Jim and Jon), Victoria Hallman (as "Miss Honeydew"), Gunilla Hutton (as "Nurse Goodbody"), Louis "Grandpa" Jones, Zella Lehr (the "unicycle girl"), George Lindsey (reprising his "Goober" character from The Andy Griffith Show), Jimmy Little, Irlene Mandrell, the Rev. Grady Nutt, Minnie Pearl, Claude 'Jackie' Phelps, Slim Pickens, Kenny Price, Ann Randall, Susan Raye, Jimmie Riddle, Lulu Roman, Misty Rowe, Junior Samples, Gailard Sartain, Jeff Smith, Roni Stoneman, Linda Thompson, Lisa Todd, Nancy Traylor and Jonathan Winters, among many others. A lot of the regulars were also regulars in the Grand Ole Opry.
Buck Owens' band, The Buckaroos, were the house band on this popular syndicated show and consisted of: Don Rich, Jim Shaw, Jerry Brightman, Jerry Wiggins, Rick Taylor, Doyle Singer (Doyle Curtsinger), Don Lee, Ronnie Jackson, Terry Christoffersen, Doyle Holly and Jesse Rose McQueen (Victoria Hallman).
This show presents examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: Gordie Tapp's Samuel B. Sternwheeler was a parody of Samuel Clemens.
- A Good Name For A Country Band : BR5-49.
- Awful Wedded Life: Gordie Tapp and Roni Stoneman had a recurring skit as LaVern and Ida Lee, the Naggers.
- The Barber: Archie's Barber Shop.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Lulu Roman, who was a former go-go dancer but had a thyroid condition.
- Big Eater: Junior Samples is implied to be one. At the end of one of the "Hey, Grandpa, what's for supper?" gags, Grandpa Jones says, "... and even Junior will get enough."
- Blowing a Raspberry: At the end of "Where O Where Are You Tonight?" (This eventually became a competition of sorts to see which actor could raspberry the other first.)
- Brainless Beauty: Many, though some were a lot smarter than they seemed. Others played this trope straight, though.
- Burma-Shave: An occasional gag presented a Burma-Shave-style rhyme/joke, one line at a time on a series of roadside signs filmed by a camera moving slowly past them.
- The Cameo: Often, especially in the "Where, Oh Where are You Tonight?" sketches (the cameo star would often have their back turned to the camera until the chorus reveal). Enjoy a few examples.
- Catchphrase: Several.
- Owens: "I'm a-Pickin'...!"
Clark: "...And I'm a-Grinnin'!"
- Minnie Pearl: HOWWWWWW-DEEEEEEE!note
- Cathy Baker: "That's all!"
- Cloudcuckoolander: Several, as much of the humor was based on this. Most notably, Junior Samples.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Charlton Comics published a seven-issue series in 1970/71.
- Country Doctor: Archie Campbell played one.
- Country Music: The show was built around it and would usually have popular country music guest stars.
- Deep South: Kornfield Kounty is located somewhere here.
- Despair Speech: The song "Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me" is a parody of this trope.Gloom, despair, and agony on me
deep, dark depression, excessive misery
if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all
gloom, despair, and agony on me.
- The Ditz: Junior Samples was this in spades.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Several cast members were often barefoot such as Archie Campbell and George Lindsay in the Moonshiners sketch as well as Kelly Billingsey and the Hagar Twins in the Haystack sketch.
- Double Take: Often.
- The "Hambone Brothers" sketches, with Jimmie Riddle "eefing" (an Appalachian musical form similar to beatboxing, but a hundred years older) and Jackie Phelps "hamboning" (another Appalachian musical form consisting of rhythmically slapping one's thigh) was just so weird that it would often get a double-take from Roy Clark. (Although after a while, Roy embraced the weirdness and started joining in with them.)
- Drowning My Sorrows: As hinted by the moonshine jugs in the "Doom, Despair and Agony On Me" sketches.
- Eccentric Townsfolk aplenty.
- Fade to Black: In a silly, corn-filled comedy program whose commercial bumpers were almost always the hapless hen and other barnyard animals parading and doing silly things, the "fade-to-black" segments – where the audience did not applaud, laugh, or otherwise react – were very noticeable. The Hee Haw Gospel Quartet segments — one of the few serious musical segments, featuring (most commonly) Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Grandpa Jones, and Kenny Price, or perhaps a guest singing a gospel song –- was the most common by far, but there were several times through the years that the cast paid tribute to a recently passed cast member; those included David "Stringbean" Akeman, the banjo player; and Junior Samples, the simple-minded comedian. The most poignant and emotional by far was the show's tribute to Elvis Presley (in early 1978), when Elvis's father, Vernon Presley, gave a short tribute to his late son and his impact on country music, and how much he was a devoted fan of Hee Haw; several of the cast members were crying on camera during the tribute as a light piano tune played, before the segment faded to a commercial.
- Farmer's Daughter: Most every girl on the show, especially the Hee Haw Honeys.
- Fat Idiot: This was Junior Samples in a nutshell. (A very large nutshell.) In a show where everyone was essentially dimwitted country bumpkins, Junior took it to the next level.
- Mr. Gordon's assistant Maynard would frequently make ridiculous purchases that would end up costing the general store money, much to Mr. Gordon's frustration.
- Gender-Blender Name: LaVern Nagger, the henpecked husband played by Gordie Tapp and married to Ida Lee (Roni Stoneman).
- Good News, Bad News: This famous Archie Campbell sketch.
- Good Ol' Boy: Most every guy on the show.
- Gossipy Hens: The Gossip Girls sketches. (Not to be confused with the soap opera.)
- Greasy Spoon: Lulu's Truck Stop.
- Half-Witted Hillbilly: This trope is one of the main sources of Hee Haw's humor, which fits thematically with the silly, lighthearted skits and jokes cornier than a Fritos factory. However, as the cast was populated with very famous country singers and comedians, any lack of intelligence was clearly just an act.
- Heroic Dog: Beauregard the Wonder Dog (earlier, Kingfish the Wonder Dog; later, Buford). Four dogs actually played the dog during the show's run (usually seen in the Moonshiners sketches). Played with in that the bloodhound did nothing but sleep.
- Hidden Depths: Several of the Honeys were also talented singers, and often got solos; most notable were Barbi Benton and Lisa Todd. Fans who only knew Roni Stoneman for her work in "The Nagers" skits were likely surprised at her vast talents as a musician (with the Stoneman Family).
- Honest John's Dealership: Junior Samples's used car lot, "Samples Sales".
- Jack Burns would frequently show up as a fast-talking city slicker who tried to pull a fast one on Goober and sell him something that he didn't need or was worthless, only for Goober to outwit the huckster.
- Iconic Outfit: Minnie Pearl's hat.
- Large Ham: Roy Clark could simply not contain himself from mugging to the cameras and it makes the often extremely complex music that he would play all the more entertaining.
- Laugh Track
- Lazy Bum: One frequent segment called The Moonshiners, where a couple of the cast would lazily tell a joke while dozing on the floor near a bunch of moonshine jugs and Beauregard the Wonder Dog (Kingfish the Wonder Dog in earlier shows), with scantily dressed girls in the background.
- News Parody: KORN News
- Ridiculously Short Phone Number: BR5-49
- Somewhat justified in that early phone numbers in rural areas were much shorter than today's standard seven digits.
- Pro Wrestling Episode: Professional wrestler Hillbilly Jim made several guest appearances in the late 1980s.
- Sacred Hospitality: The "Hey, Grandpa, what's for supper?" gag (Grandpa Jones would then describe a meal in poetic rhyme, often a delicious country-style meal that would be met with cast approval, but sometimes a comically bad entree (met with a "Yuk!"). Jones would be miming cleaning a window when the segment started, but then lean through the "glass" to say his lines. On a couple of rare occasions, Grandpa would be booed: once when he said "Ah ain't got nuthin", and another time when he offered "a big fresh roast of good moose meat".
- Schoolmarm: Minnie Pearl often played one.
- Sdrawkcab Name: Archie Campbell's retelling of Cinderella ("Rindercella") and the Three Little Pigs ("Pee Little Thrigs"). (Actually more like spoonerisms, but "telling it backwards" was the joke.)
- Archie Campbell also had a running gag after the Hee Haw Salutes segment described under Shout-Out. "And (name of hometown) spelled backwards is...."
- Shout-Out: A cast member would salute an American small town and give its population, followed by the entire cast popping up from a cornfield and yelling "Sa-loote!!!!" Early on, this was met with canned laughter, but this soon changed to applause (in a nod that small-town America was being honored, rather than this be a joke).
- Occasionally, if that week's guest was from a larger city, s/he'd salute it.
- Simple Country Lawyer: Justus O'Peace; "Cletus Biggs of Biggs, Shy, & Stir Kornfield Kounty's most honorable law firm — where our motto is, 'When in doubt, sue!'"
- Signing-Off Catchphrase: "So long everybody! We'll see you next week on... 'Hee Haw'!"
- And after the credits, Cathy Baker's "That's all!"
- That's All, Folks!: Literally. After the credits, Cathy Baker would say, "That's all!"
- Title Theme Tune: "HEEEEEEEEEE HAWWWWWWWWW! Hee hee hee haw haw haw! Hee Haw!"
- Weather Report: In later seasons, the KORN news skits added a weather girl.
- Wrap-Up Song: The whole cast assembled at the end of each episode to sing, "We Love the Time We Spend With You." Replaced in later seasons with the more upbeat, "So Long."