This NBC classic is a must-see

Tired of the labored jokes of today’s comedy shows? No laughs are forced in the classic NBC series Sanford and Son.


Lamont Sanford runs his father Fred’s salvage business out of their home and junkyard in Watts, CA.

A 70’s sit-com, Sanford and Son features many comical situations—often because of Fred—which the two must get themselves out of. In one particular episode, Fred buys an antique Civil War gun, and they accidentally fire it, thinking they killed their neighbor. They then must decide how to get out of their situation without being arrested for murder. In another episode, the two drive up into the forested mountains for a camping trip, but their truck breaks down and they don’t know how to fix it, so they have to figure out how to get back. Overall, the show relies heavily on slapstick humor and irony and makes for a classic comedy.

The set of Sanford and Son

Because the show relies heavily on character personalities and irony, the location is often irrelevant; this makes the show unique in that it only takes place in one setting: the Sanford & Son junkyard in Watts.

On occasion, though, we do see the leads travel to different locations, such as when Fred and Lamont have to take an airplane to collect an inheritance from family in St. Louis, or when Lamont takes a theater class. The show lends itself to a cheap production, but that lack of distraction allows the comedy to be so bold and speak loudly.

Comedian Redd Foxx was perfect for the role of Fred Sanford, an bitterly sarcastic old man who, like the stand-up comedian Redd Foxx, relied on wit and catch phrases. One of his best and most well-known was, “Oh Lord, this is the big one. You hear that, Elizabeth? I’m coming to join you.”



He’d say this when he would fake a heart attack; this is an antic that he would often pull to get out of trouble. He was always getting in trouble because of the many get-rich-quick schemes he was trying to pull, or because he would lie for personal gain.

His son, Lamont, had his head on straight, often serving as the voice of reason. Whenever his father would have a crazy idea, Lamont would bring him back to earth. Also, Lamont is always trying to get out of the house and live his own life away from his father. This leads him to take up interests such as acting and to hang out with his friend Rollo, who often gets Lamont into a bind.

Fred and Lamont Sanford, courtesy of

Throughout the series, it is clear that Lamont would probably be successful if he didn’t have an obligation to live with his father (who would otherwise be a lonely old man).

There are a few supporting characters that come around on occasion. One is the group of two officers who are friends of the Sanfords. One of the officers is naïve and goofy, always using long, highfalutin’ wording but then misusing words in the end. His partner balances him out and keeps the two on track. Another character who makes her rounds is Aunt Esther, Fred’s sister-in-law. Aunt Esther is very strict and preaches the Bible at Fred and Lamont whenever they get in trouble. Aunt Esther’s strict personality clashes with Fred’s sleazy habits, and they have a feuding relationship; because of this, they are always exchanging insults, which means that an appearance from her will bring out the best of Fred.

The set of Sanford and Son isn’t ornate or fancy. They don’t use any special effects. It gives the show an appropriate vibe: not dramatic, but rather down-to-earth, as it should be. They are in touch with the fact that it a comedy show, and sometimes they break down the fourth wall. In fact, the audience is shown on occasion.

If you want a show that pulls no punches when it comes to laughs, then you want Sanford and Son. You’d have to be a “big dummy” not to watch it.