One of the longest-running shows in syndication (on the air 23 years come this fall) is also one of the most underrated. Oh sure, Hee Haw is a corn-pone version of Laugh-In and filled with dumb jokes. But, week after week, it also features the best in country music, and it has remained remarkably open- minded. Singers from Roy Acuff to k.d. lang have sat upon a Hee Haw bale of hay, traded a few one-liners, and sung a few songs; before his death earlier this year, John Henry Faulk, a Texas humorist blacklisted in the ’50s, found his only regular employment on the show.
When Buck Owens left a few seasons back, Hee Haw lost an important source of raw, unadorned country. Remaining host Roy Clark is all too eager to play the slick clown. And the show is still dominated by goofy jokes and sketches featuring skimpily dressed women and leering old men. Unfashionable as it is, though, Hee Haw remains the best showcase a country singer could have. A-