Recapping “Hee Haw,” Nashville’s country comedy variety TV show

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It’s natural to think of a donkey when you hear the term “Hee Haw,” but to Nashvillians, those two words bring back memories of a knee-slappin’ good time. We’re of course referring to Nashville’s own country comedy variety TV show.

We’ve already dug through the archives, so we’ll quit hee hawing around and allow you to start reminiscing on the legacy that brought laughs to Middle Tennessee homes for over 20 years.

📺 By the numbers

  • 655 episodes in a 26-season run
  • Made $8 million in advertising at its height of popularity
  • Premiered on CBS from 1969-1971
  • Ran in syndication from 1971 until the last episode aired in 1992

⭐ Ready, set, action

Production took place at Opryland beginning in 1980. Based in the fictional town of Kornfield Kounty, the show included countless well-known performers over the years outside of country music star hosts Buck Owens and Roy Clark.

Other regular famous cast members included Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, and David “Stringbean” Akemanand not to be forgotten, the Hee Haw Honeys. The show highlighted diverse guest performers like mainstream country stars Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and Garth Brooks + other A-list celebs like Mickey Mantle, John Ritter, and Big Bird (yes, you’re thinking of the right one).

🔁 Recurring segments

To really set the scene, we’ve rounded up just two of the many recurring sketches on the show.

  • “PFFT! You Was Gone!”: The duet, which was featured on the very first episode, was performed by Archie Campbell + a guest star joining in on the chorus. The guest would stand, back turned, with a pitchfork in hand before the chorus intro.
  • KORN News: Don Harron, playing KORN radio announcer Charlie Farquharson, would give a spoof on-air news report — a segment he brought to other venues before, during, and after “Hee Haw.”

🌾 “Hee Haw” influences

The legacy of “Hee Haw” has been apparent in a variety of ways since the show’s debut.

  • Hee Haw Theater operated in Branson, Missouri from 1981-1983, holding live shows of the stars of the TV series. The theater was the “first Branson venue to feature nationally-known country music and comedy talent at every performance.”
  • Country music star Pam Tillis spearheaded “Hay Y’All! An All-Star Tribute to Hee Haw” in 2014 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, featuring stars like Joe Diffie, Lauren Alaina, and The Warren Brothers to benefit The Rochelle Center.
  • MOONSHINE: That Hee Haw Musical” opened at Dallas Theater Center in 2015.
  • Also that year, “SheHaw,” a drag show inspired by “Hee Haw,” debuted in Nashville.
  • Charlton Comics published one-pagers featuring characters from the TV show.

Not done traveling down memory lane? Here is the Boot’s take on the 10 best moments of “Hee Haw.”

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