Campus: San Josť State University -- April 28, 2000

"Take it, Tom!"
The Smothers Brothers To Address SJSU's 140th Commencement Audience

Brothers will also be awarded honorary doctorates.

No matter which of the Smothers Brothers Mom liked best, it will be both members of the long-playing comedy team who give the main address at San Josť State University's 140th Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 27. Tom and Dick Smothers will be awarded honorary doctorates as well, for their ground-breaking work in opening up television in America to controversial subjects and significant satire. Ceremonies will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the university's Spartan Stadium, where an audience of 25,000 students and their professors, family members and friends is expected.

SJSU President Robert L. Caret will confer degrees upon candidates from the Classes of August 1999, December 1999 and May 2000, for a total of 4,928 bachelor's degrees and 1,667 master's degrees. For more information about SJSU Commencement, call the President's Office at 408-924-1177.

A comedic style all their own

The Smothers Brothers have delighted America for more than four decades with their unique style of satirical folk singing and their endearing sibling rivalry. Now internationally known, they got their start in San Josť. After studying at San Josť State in the 1950s, the brothers polished their fraternity party act in area nightclubs and quickly went on to successes in recording, television, and theatre.

While they made us laugh, Dick and Tom Smothers were also at the center of an important and controversial set of issues involving freedom of speech and censorship on American television in the late 1960s. The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which ran on CBS-TV for three years, brought to national attention counter-cultural perspectives on most of the important topics of that era: war, drugs, sexuality, religion, political attitudes and dynamics, race relations and civil rights.

Lessons in freedom of speech

The Smothers Brothers show, their battles with CBS censors, the abrupt cancellation of their series mid-season, and their subsequent successful lawsuit against the television network for breach of contract have all generated significant scholarly literature and analysis. Their struggle to speak freely is now studied in university classrooms across the country.

Today the brothers continue to tour for nine months of the year. They can be seen on E! Entertainment Television, which airs their original comedy show along with contemporary commentary and celebrity interviews. The Museum of Broadcasting in New York has produced a retrospective and seminar on their work. And on the West Coast, they have been honored with a star on the noted Hollywood Walk of Fame. The team has also inspired a revival of yo-yoing, with the slogan "Just say Yo!" The Yo-Yo Man Instructional Video, produced by Kodak, is one of the largest-selling videos in its class.

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