Playboy Laughs invites readers onto the sets of the organization’s groundbreaking TV shows, Playboy Penthouse and Playboy After Dark. These popular variety series brought top-tier comedians, impressionists, and monologists―as well as the finest musicians―into people’s homes each week.
Patty Farmer is an entertainment historian who has authored the new book ‘Playboy Laughs’ chronicling the history involving Playboy magazine and stand up comedy. The recently deceased Dick Gregory got his big break performing at the Playboy club in Chicago and used to have to take the bus to get there because he was so broke when he started. For all the criticism that has fallen on Hugh Hefner for being sexist he doesn’t get enough credit for breaking the color barrier in terms of hiring performers at his clubs and models for his magazine at a time when the United States was racially segregated. In this episode we talk about my own personal history with Playboy magazine and how the Playboy interviews were a very important part of my entertainment apprenticeship. We discuss the rise of George Carlin and Lenny Bruce who performed at the Playboy clubs and which entertainer who couldn’t keep his hands to himself. This important period in American entertainment history and the history of American censorship is but a distant memory for those who remember and this is a conversation I was happy to capture for the Smart Camp audience. So put on your bunny ears and you fluffy slippers and find out why the Playboy empire was a crucial component in the history of American comedy. It is my pleasure to present to you now the one and only Patty Farmer!
To enjoy the conversation that I had with the wonderful Tom Rhodes on Tom Rhodes radio, click here.
How did Patty Farmer go from businesswoman to historian of the Playboy empire? “I don’t do well when I’m bored,” she tells me, as we talk about her new book/oral history, Playboy Laughs: The Comedy, Comedians, and Cartoons of Playboy. We get into the cultural impact of Playboy (the clubs, resorts and jazz festivals, not just the magazine), my own history with same, the process of becoming friends with one’s interviewees, gaining access to Hugh Hefner’s immense archives, combining comedians and cartoonists into a single volume, the amazing work Hef did as a cartoon editor, how she swung from business deals to entertainment history, and more! Go buy Playboy Laughs!
Take a listen to the entire interview by clicking here.