Pat Paulsen was an extremely ineffectual 'comedian' who had the benefit of some top-flight writers. Briefly fashionable in the late 1960s, Paulsen was acclaimed for having 'the deadest pan since (Buster) Keaton'. His career foundered when his own extremely vicious personality could no longer be concealed within the mild-mannered hapless character Paulsen pretended to be onscreen. When Paulsen became unwilling (or unable) to memorise his material, he developed a habit of glancing angrily to stage-right every few moments, grimacing in disgust but also sneaking a peek at the offstage cue cards. Paulsen is remembered for his gimmick of running for President in the 1968 and 1972 campaigns, a gimmick which wasn't even original: Will Rogers and several other comedians had already used the same gimmick.
"Pat Paulsen's Half a Comedy Hour" was a half-hour comedy series with some impressive production values. The opening episode featured a film sequence in which Paulsen's car broke down in the wintry landscape of Minnesota. When he knocked on the door of the nearest house, the resident turned out to be former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey (playing himself), who glanced at Paulsen's auto and asked him if he'd tried washing the engine. This was an unfunny reference to an ad campaign Paulsen was doing at that time for Mobil gasoline.
The series featured a bouncy theme tune and nice animation in the opening credits, and two episodes featured some first-rate animation from the Warner studio. In one episode, Paulsen interviewed Daffy Duck onscreen, the animated cartoon image of Daffy Duck appearing alongside the (barely) flesh-and-blood Pat Paulsen. In a later episode, the same technique was used to show Paulsen interviewing Foghorn Leghorn: the unfunny sequence ended with Foghorn's head morphing into a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The unfunny jokes on this series were made more painful by a laugh track that was too loud, too raucous, too obvious.
Paulsen was ably supported in this series by comedian Bob Einstein (the underrated brother of the overrated Albert Brooks). Einstein played some bizarre characters here, including a lab mouse who was addicted to diet cola. I wish that this series had given more material to Bob Einstein and less to Pat Paulsen.
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