Friday, August 12th, 2022

Comedy Duos from The Ed Sullivan Show

From the inception of The Ed Sullivan Show, comedy has always been a mainstay of the program.  Some comedians only appeared on the show a few times while others became regulars.  As we look back on many of the comedians who appeared, we’d like to point a spotlight on a few of the comedic duos who became household names from their hilarious Sunday night performances.  Many of these duos went on to host their own shows after Sullivan and appear on other television programs, but it’s these early years that will always be known as their “stomping grounds” and bridge to stardom. 

Stiller & Meara 

On April 7, 1963, husband-and-wife comedy duo Stiller & Meara made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. The two were such a hit with the audience they were invited back to the show repeatedly throughout the 60s and 70s, for a total of 36 appearances!  When the show ended its run in 1971, Stiller & Meara went on to host a short-lived TV program, Take Five with Stiller & Meara immediately following Saturday Night Live and appeared on a number of sitcoms, including their own The Stiller and Meara Show.  Younger generations may best remember Jerry Stiller for playing the role of Frank Costanza on Seinfeld.

Wayne & Shuster

On May 4, 1958, Canadians Wayne & Shuster performed for the first time on The Ed Sullivan Show. Right off the bat they were an instant hit and returned to the Sullivan stage an additional 57 times! In the summer of 1961, CBS gave them a sitcom called Holiday Lodge, where the comedy duo would perform various original sketches that grew their fan base.   Always true to their Canadian roots, ironically Wayne & Shuster hold the record for the most appearances on Sullivan, America’s favorite variety television show!

The Smothers Brothers 

On June 19, 1966, The Smothers Brothers made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. Although the brothers, Tom and Dick only made a total of two appearances on the show, those appearances were memorable.  Enough so that CBS Executives took note of their immense talent and they eventually landed their own show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.  The show ran for 71 episodes from 1967 through 1969. The duo was known for their folk music in between comedic bits which were mostly made up of the brothers arguing with one another and the running gag, “Mom Liked You Best!”

Morecambe & Wise

On March 17, 1963, British comics Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise best known as Morecambe & Wise made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The comedic pair would set each other up for laughs and use their famous catchphrases. Eric would always make fun of Ernie’s “short, fat, hairy legs.” The group performed a number of times on the show between 1963 and 1968. They were favorites of Ed who enjoyed their uniquely British humor.  They were guests on some very high-profile shows and were even invited to take part in a special tribute to celebrate the 80th birthday of Irving Berlin.

Allen & Rossi

On April 23, 1961, Marty Allen & Steve Rossi also known as Allen & Rossi made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The duo was an instant hit on the show and returned for a total of 44 times!  Together they recorded 17 comedy albums during an enviable career and guested on over  700 television spots. They even shared the Sullivan stage with The Beatles on some of the group’s historic performances.  Not to be overlooked,  Steve Rossi was also a talented singer and performed solo on several Sullivan episodes to showcase his musical side as an entertainer. 

In addition to these amazing comedy duos, several other pairs performed on the show including Rowan & Martin, Reiner & Brooks, Greco & Willard, Burns & Schreiber, Skiles & Henderson, and many more. 
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