Pat Paulsen for President

He’s back, and still better than all the rest.

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Tommy Smothers Says Paulsen Saved the Show

September 19th, 2008 · 13 Comments

By RICH FREEDMAN/Times-Herald staff writer

Pat Paulsen may have credited the Smothers Brothers with launching his career. But it was the late mock-presidential candidate who saved the popular Smothers Brothers Show, says the man who should know.
“Pat was probably the most recognizable and definable part of the show,” said Tommy Smothers. “If the show was a painting, he was the brightest color.”

It’s debatable who actually urged Paulsen to run for commander in chief of the free world starting in 1968 through 1996, Smothers said.

“It could have come from a whole bunch of people,” he said. “But his ’68 run was one of the best satirical things ever done in politics.”

Smothers first met Paulsen in 1959. The brothers were performing at the Purple Onion in San Francisco and the nondescript Paulsen was a stranger who approached Tommy and Dick after several performances.

“He’d say, ‘I enjoyed your show. If you want to put in my comedy, I think that would really help. But I like you guys a lot,'” recalled Smothers. “And he’d wander away.”

Paulsen repeated his encouragement that the Smothers “sing good, but the act needs comedy,” Tommy recalled, later realizing Paulsen was doing his show up the street.

“We became friends and took him on the road,” Tommy said.

Then came the popular TV show “and we’d put Pat on as much as we could,” Tommy said. “And every time we’d have a sketch that wasn’t working, we’d put in Pat or a midget.”

Looking back, Smothers said, “he was the best at deadpan comedy since Buster

Keaton. You could never break him” into smiling.
The best of Paulsen was often never seen, Smothers said.

“He had a ribald sense of humor. He’d be sitting in his car with my brother telling jokes that were just disgusting,” Tommy said. “He had this great, naughty sense of humor. He just never showed it on stage.”

When it came to physical comedy, “God, was he good,” Smothers said. “When he fell or stumbled over, he had all the moves.”

Paulsen has been missed since he died from cancer April 24, 1997.

“It was a great loss. He was the most important comedic talent I’ve met in my life,” Smothers said, grateful that Paulsen receives a Comedy Legends Award at Comedy Day in San Francisco on Sept. 28.

“I think he has been a little bit forgotten,” Smothers said. “People don’t realize how very, very smart Pat was. Though he wasn’t particularly wise in investments.”

This year’s Obama vs. McCain battle could have used Paulsen in the mix, Smothers said.

“Pat would have been great. He always had this powerful sense of commitment when he ran. There was no joke about it, though there was the joke underneath it. He never let on that it’s a joke, which is amazing. Not many could do that.”

There was nothing like strolling around with Paulsen, said Smothers.

“Whenever I’d walk around with him, people would yell, ‘Hey, Mr. President,'” Smothers said. “We miss him.”

Tags: News · Politics

13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gary M // Sep 19, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I miss Pat too. I worked in Radio in Jackson, MI from 88 to 93. I had Pat on the air several times, The last time was after he had done so well in the NC Primary. He even took me out for a beverage after a show in Jackson. He was a brilliant man who understood every aspect of comedy. I remember specifically his defense of Andrew Dice Clay to another person at out table. He was able to look beneath the surface and know what Clay was really doing comedically.

    I miss him very much. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word.

  • 2 Phyllis and Dick Bookler // Sep 21, 2008 at 2:55 am

    He was simply the best. We miss him on so many occasions, but especially during the elections.
    We think he’d have a great chance of winning this year. There is no one running who has his kind
    heart and generous spirit.

  • 3 Roland Hansen // Sep 30, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    The world is a much better place because of Pat Paulsen.

    And, the country would be in much better position under President Pat Paulsen.

  • 4 Jj Baker // Oct 30, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I used to laugh my ass off watching him on the Smother Brothers show when I was a young man.I don’t think my parents thought it was as funney!

  • 5 Roderick D. Goman // Nov 4, 2008 at 4:32 am

    I just think that it’s funny that Pat is waiting around in heaven for us, probably cracking jokes about the angels & campaigning for the office of God!

  • 6 Patrick Michael // Jan 5, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    I saw Pat Paulson at the Ice House in Pasadena twice not long after the Smother’s Brother’s show ended. He got everyone laughing so hard that I could hardly breathe and my girlfriend wet her pants.

  • 7 Jim Garcia // Oct 13, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Pat was one of a kind. His deadpan humor was so funny. When the camera got a close up of him speaking so seriously yet you knew he was joking was mind boggling. I couldn’t help but laugh. Pat Paulsen would most likely have been a great President. Humor takes a degree of intellegence and his humor was so unique, I know he could have handled the job extremely well…no joke. Mr. Paulson is greatly missed.

  • 8 Ben Bradley // Mar 12, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    I just barely remember him on Smothers Brothers and other late ’60’s variety TV shows. The one skit I remember involved political polarization, a very scary phenomenon that continues strongly to this day.

    After reading of his “ribald” and “naughty” sense of humor, it’s regrettable he didn’t live to star in “The Aristocrats.”

  • 9 Mary // Nov 3, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Pat Paulson spoke at my Junior Achievement convention in 1968. He started with how great America is and gradually built to a cresendo of emotion whipping us into mass of hysteria and ended in Heil Hitler. What a great history lesson.

  • 10 davequ // May 30, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I remember Pat and Tommy from 1968 when they used to come visit at the Playboy Club where I was working.
    Such great guys, both of them. Thank you for everything, Pat (and Tommy too) –

    I hope they buried Pat in the American flag vest he used to flash at us for fun. God Bless you too, Tommy – Hey, … did you ever find out “who f#cK$ the stork?”

  • 11 Duncan McEwan // Sep 30, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Boy we can sure use him now in this year’s election (2015) Every time I see Donald Trump “campaigning” I keep thinking “It was funnier when Pat Paulsen did it.”

    You are missed!

  • 12 Kelly // Oct 6, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Pat and the brothers were an integral part of our household. I found this and had to lift a symbolic glass of wine to toast Pat and the boys. I will always remember them as boys, the youthful enthusiasm they projected was so infectious.

  • 13 Bill Brown // Dec 9, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Tom and I were good friends in high school and have followed their career from the beginning. Indeed Pat was the icing on the cake, in those years. My wife and I had been privileged to attend many of their personal appearances and to renew “old times”.

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