One of the high points of the first "Laugh-In" special on NBC in September will be what producer George Schlatter calls "The First Annual Burbank Pet Show and Farrah Fawcett Look-alike Contest."
Said Schlatter: "It will be held behind the NBC studios in June, when we tape the first show. All animals will be eligible, with the possible exception of NBC executives and their girl-friends. We are going to try to find as many pets as we can that look like Farrah.
"We will then introduced them on the show and see if the public can tell the difference. We will not give any of the pets written exams, but then, they didn't give her one, either."
For the first show, Schlatter also plans to feature Bette Davis, Barry Goldwater and Arnold Schwarzennegger. Those will be the only familiar names. The regular cast will be made up of comics who have no national recognition.
On a recent night, Schlatter took over the Comedy Store on Sunset Boulevard to display for a selected audience most of the new regulars whom he and his cheif writer and consultant Digby Wolfe had assembly after a search of watering holes in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and London.
Only one seemed to ring a bell from a previous television appearance. His name was Ed. Bluestone, Schlatter knew he had a winner when he and Wolfe saw Bluestone doing a comic routine at The Improvisation in Los Angeles.
"He hit me with one line," said Schlatter. "The line was, 'He's a quadrasexual. That means he'll do anything to anybody for a quater." When I hear that. I went crazy, and the club went crazy."
Bluestone and the other comics will be a good deal more familiar when the first of the six planned "Laugh-In" specials goes on the air this fall.
They are a remarkable collection of talent. And there is something singularly striking aboout their humor. It is based almost exclusively on television viewing. When this was mentioned to Schlatter, he nodded instant agreement. "That's the big thing," he said. "All of these people are under 30.
"They all grew up with television as part of their enviroment. Television is no longer the focal point of our attention. Television is part of our enviroment, like Muzak. It's just there Nothing on television really demands that you just watch it. You can listen to it.
"All of these people grew up with television. So the humor is television based. They're doing Star Trek and Ed Sullivan impressions. The other night one guy did Watergate impressions. But television is their only frame of reference.
"Just take television commercials, which are America's new art form. Out here, "Not For Women Only" at 6 in the morning. It's very feminist oriented: Women in industry, women in banking, women in finance. But in between those interviews, all of the commercials are about women in the kitchen.
"One women was getting off the other day on a can of oven cleaner. it was sexual experience for her. It gave her sexual experience for her. It gave her complete fulfillment. She really got off on having a clean oven. I know a lot of women, and none get their kicks from a clean oven."
Schlatter intends to do some comdic bits on television commercials. "I think we may do something with Bette Davis on the first show," he said, "about the fact that every centimeter of a woman's body, to judge from the commercials, requires an enormous and constant amount of close attention. Everything a woman has must be shrunk, shampooed or shaved."
Schlatter is not at all concerned about dealing with subject meterial that 10 years ago seemed racy on the old "Laugh-In" show. He'recalled that in those days a joke about The Phill was good for a big laugh.
He is pleased that television critics have finally separated sex and violence. The latter, he thinks, has been overdone on teelevision. As for sex, Schlatter said: "Sex on television is dangerous and uncomfortable. You'll fall off and hurt your back."
But he feels that those who get upset about TV sex will attack "Charlie's Angles" before they turn their attention to "Laugh-In." "That show is more soft porn," he said. "They can't wait to get Farrah's bra off and get her wet. I mean, taht's the whole trick. The writers sit down and say, 'How are we going to get her wet this week?'"
It is much too early to tell if Schlatter, Wolfe and company are going to make the new version of "Laugh-In" the runaway hit it was 10 years ago. One thing is certain: They are not going to make aFarrah Fawcett their pet.