Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate Review: Laugh? I Almost Started…

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 17, 2019
Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate Netflix Review


A self-indulgent mess that reminds us how funny and groundbreaking the original show was just by failing to be either of those things.

I used to work behind the bar of my local pub. One of the regulars used to come and sit at the bar for hours and pepper me with ‘jokes’. They were usually tasteless, probably both sexist and racist, and when his attempts to entertain would fall short, as they invariably did, he would glare at me, muttering to himself something along the lines of “well, I guess I am not politically correct enough these days”. The problem with this customer was not just that his fawning attempts at humor were in poor taste, but that they just weren’t funny either. That is largely how I felt about Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate; it’s not that the gags are too edgy, they are just not funny.

Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate is a celebration of, you guessed it, the comedy variety show The Laugh-In. Now, to be clear, this review is not of the original show, which was, for its time, groundbreaking, topical and often hilarious. It paved the way for much of how American TV humor has evolved since it first aired 50 years ago. I get the cultural legacy of that show so let’s just get that straight before we rush to the comments section. This review is focused on the awkward, self-indulgent back-slap-athon that you can watch on Netflix today in homage to the original.

The general idea behind Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate is that we have several current comedy stars and a sprinkling of original cast members. They join us on stage to recreate the atmosphere of the original show, reimagining a number of the original features and sketches interspersed with clips of the original, giving us a chance to remember the classic show and also give contemporary performers the chance to show their stuff.

So, where to start? This special is stacked with really talented performers: Neil Patrick Harris, Tiffany Haddish, Snoop Dogg, Lili Tomlin, Michael Douglas and many more; so many in fact, the opening credits are about 5 minutes long. They are really queuing up to be on this show, and why not? I’ll bet it was the easiest sell in the world; hang out with a bunch of celebrities, tell a few jokes, have a few drinks, what a lovely time that sounds like. However, it feels like they were having such a nice time that they forgot to write any jokes. Okay, let me rephrase that, there are loads of jokes in this, but I don’t think I have ever seen so many gags land so flat, in such short order. They were having such a nice time they forgot to write any funny jokes. Seriously, I have had surgery with more laughs. The cuts to clips from the original show just serve to underscore this point, the original was funny and edgy.

To make matters worse, at one stage, they take the time to tell us all off for not having a sense of humor anymore. To be fair, I get that society has become pre-disposed to look for things that are wrong, and there is always a group of finger-waggers ready to be horrified. But deluging us with watered-down puns and double entendre without first even raising so much as a smirk is not the best way to set up a lecture telling us to lighten up. It sort of feels very much like it did in that pub, a lonely old man assuming that the audience is wrong because they are not having as a good a time as he is.

Netflix, TV Reviews