14 Goofy Bits You Should Know from the Smothers Brothers

Mom always liked you best
14 Goofy Bits You Should Know from the Smothers Brothers

Tom and Dick Smothers were firebrands who liked to challenge the status quo, and poke and prod at the politically powerful. But it’s important to remember: They were also a couple of goofballs. Here are a few timeless bits that combine their musical chops, stage presence and unmatched wit…

‘Mom Always Liked You Best’

Tom tries to open up about his insecurities with an objectively stupid song, and it devolves into sibling bickering over the terrible treatment Dick and their mother subjected him to.

‘Church Bells’

The boys discuss the importance of religious tolerance, and how folks in their hometown lived in literal harmony.

‘Side by Side’

They start out singing the 1927 hit “Side by Side,” until Tom makes a surprise announcement that they’re breaking up. He then launches his solo career as The Smother Brother.

‘Boil That Cabbage Down’

They sing the old folk song “Boil That Cabbage Down.” Dick tosses a solo to Tom with an enthusiastic “take it, Tommy!”, which Tom fumbles spectacularly.

‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’

Tom announces that Dick won’t be available for the season finale of their show, but that’s fine, because he doesn’t need family when he’s got show business in his blood. Dick makes an emotional, triumphant return mid-song, and the boys immediately air out some dirty laundry.

‘If I Had a Ship’

Tom stutters through the introduction to this folk song by The Kingston Trio. The audience enthusiastically joins in — except for one guy, who Tom “heard not singing, clear as a bell.” This spurs them to do some extended crowdwork to root out the culprit. 

‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore’

Dick asks the crowd to sing along, to “create a mystical magical power of love, of brotherhood.” This inspires Tom to adopt the enthusiastic mannerisms of a preacher, and immediately demand money from the audience.

The Yo-Yo Man

Tom’s one-off character became a staple of their act. He begins a little stiff, but, on command, gets into an extremely groovy “state of yo.” 

‘Mediocre Fred’

Tommy sings this ballad of the most boring man in the world — who happens to have one teeny tiny little secret.

‘Since My Canary Died’

In an attempt to add a song “with some substance and some depth” to their repertoire, they perform this ode to a dead bird — and vow to murder the cat who killed it.

‘Jenny Brown’

Vowing to launch a new career that corners the teen market, they perform this original song about the sorrow and elation of young love. Jenny Brown is a young woman who’s “passionate, warm, vivacious, eyes sparkling, alive… but screwed up.”

‘Mule Train’

Dick tries to explain the concept of crossbred animals who birth sterile offspring to his simple brother, in the middle of this classic cowboy song. It’s not really sticking. They slip a couple of solid Ronald Reagan jokes in there, though.

‘Crabs Walk Sideways’

This one’s an original ballad about star-crossed crustaceans: Herman the lobster and Sally the crab. 

‘Population Explosion’

As a quick intermission during one of their live shows, Tommy explains his brilliant plan to combat global overpopulation.

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