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date: 31 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The country music variety show Hee Haw simultaneously hearkened back to radio era precedents and embraced cutting edge production and editing techniques. This chapter situates Hee Haw’s 1969 debut among earliest examples of televised country music that merely added visual components to radio formats, followed by sitcoms like the Andy Griffith Show or Beverly Hillbillies that used country music for added color and bumpkin humor. Hee Haw embraced a rapid-fire, nonnarrative, “postmodern” aesthetic directly inspired by its predecessor, Laugh-In. Distinct from contemporary variety programs hosted by Johnny Cash or Glen Campbell, Hee-Haw taped in a studio with no live audience and efficiently pieced together its season via computerized, time-coded editing. Perpetuating comedic hillbilly stereotypes yet with a winking, tongue-in-cheek sense of sophistication, Hee Haw was purged from the CBS network in 1971 and continued production of new seasons via syndication until 1992.

Keywords: Hee Haw, country music television, media history, “rural purge, ” postmodern aesthetics, television comedy, variety show, stereotypes, nostalgia

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