Andy Griffith said that ''The Andy Griffith Show'' would have had a very different future if Sheriff Taylor had been the show's comedic relief

What if Sheriff Taylor had been the Barney Fife of the series?

Andy Griffith was an undoubtedly funny man. He was hilarious in films like No Time for Sergeants, and even as straight-man Sheriff Taylor, he had a dry sense of humor that could sneak up on you every once in a while. While it was a much more rare form of humor, some of our favorite chuckles have been the result of Andy Taylor's quips.

Griffith was aware of the importance of his more serious character in The Andy Griffith Show. It was a role that he took great pride in, as he should. While many of Mayberry's residents are quirky and zany, quick to get a viewer's attention, Sheriff Taylor provided a comfortable, grounding energy that kept the series feeling like home. He was the sweet nucleus that the other characters revolved around. Without him, they'd be aimless.

Originally, Griffith was intended to have a more comedic role before relinquishing that honor to Don Knotts, who went on to win multiple Emmys for his hilarious performance as Barney Fife. 

While we're not one to chance fate, one can't help but wonder how the show might have changed if Griffith continued as the series' comedic compass. Well, Griffith himself has his answer for that, as he believed it would have changed the show for the worse. In an interview with The Daily Times, Griffith confessed, "I think if I had been the comic it [The Andy Griffith Show] might have lasted about six months."

The decision to have Andy Taylor become more serious was a calculated move on Griffith's part, and it worked to the benefit of the show. He said, "I realized that Don should be funny, and I should play straight. That opened up a world of opportunities because each time we had a fine comic actor come on the show, such as Floyd the barber, we signed him as a regular and I played straight to him. And I played straight to Otis and sometimes I played straight to Aunt Bea, and to the boy."

He explained, "Those people made up the population of Mayberry, and it gave the show great longevity. It gave us an opportunity to write for each one of these characters, and write different kinds of shows."


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21 Comments

QazWiz 1 month ago
in vaudeville teams ALWAYS gave the straight "man" 60% split. it was who was depended on mostly for the timing, be it to wait for the laugh or to interupt a set-up rant asking for the punch line,

a stand-up "man" is funny but to be really great they need to master timing (both solo and in a group) and instinctively know who is best to say the line... several greats would giveaway the punch lines to others when it would be a better laugh said by another.... meanwhile Andy quickly learned that he wasn't on a standup stage (on which he was superb) but on a vaudville stage filming a TV show
MichaelVegas 1 month ago
I think its reason for success was that Andy was the straight man, after all in those days you respected the police and such a whole lot, so if the Sheriff was joking around all the time, he could not be fair and law abiding and have the respect of those in his town, but it was a comedy show so you had to have jokes so leave that to Barney, as he was not the head guy and if he needed backup you have the real sheriff who again was respected
SvenSquad777 1 month ago
Hi everyone! This is my first post! In response to john's post about Don Knotts, I actually really like the character of Barney Fife! He is a character with a lot of depth, and I find his energy refreshing and stimulating. I think Don Knotts did a very good job!
John 1 month ago
Frankly, I know I'm in the minority but I always found Don Knott's an annoyance noattet how many Emmys they gave him.
That type of frantic humor wears me out.
NEPASteve 1 month ago
A young stray female cat wandered into our house 3 years ago and gave birth to two kittens. As fans of the Andy Griffith Show, and the guest star Bernard Fox, we named them Malcolm and Merriweather. Mom is Tiger Lily, and all three live with us now.
BradBeall NEPASteve 1 month ago
Bless you for helping those kitties!
ncadams27 1 month ago
A print ad in TV Guide for the show stated “he out-slicks the city slickers”
ncadams27 1 month ago
The year after TAGS began, Danny Thomas spun off another show, this time starring Joey Bishop. Here Joey played an incompetent employee of the firm that handles Danny’s travel arrangements. It also featured Madge Blake (Mrs Mondello from LITB) as his mom and Marlo Thomas as his sister. When the Joey Bishop show began in Fall 1961, he played a similar role with some additions to the cast (a brother and older married sister). The older sister had a husband played by Joe Flynn who was constantly out of work and looking for get-rich-quick schemes. Joey got upset because he wanted all the funny lines and had the show completely revamped to where he was now a married New York talk show host (similar to Johnny Carson). Unlike Andy Griffith, Joey Bishop didn’t want to be the straight man and the show under the original format lasted only one year. So The Andy Griffith Show could have evolved into Andy Taylor getting his own talk show - Mayberry Tonight with Barney as his announcer and co-host.
TereF 1 month ago
Howdy, MEtv!
Andy Griffith is one of my classic favorites, and I totally concur that Andy as the straight man served this show the best. It brought out the comedic genius in the characters of Barney, Floyd, Otis, Ernest T., and many others. Thank you, Andy!!
Runeshaper 1 month ago
I would agree that it was better for Andy to play the role as he did (-:
JHP 1 month ago
now there's the understatement of the year '24

the only time Ang was funny was doing the "pony" with HELLen Frump
Rick 1 month ago
Too bad he didn't realize how important it was when Don Knotts left to fill that role again. Just because Warren didn't work doesn't mean you can eliminate the role.
JHP Rick 1 month ago
huh? huh? huh? :)
MyNameIsBond JHP 1 month ago
Howard Sprague, maybe?
Dysall Rick 1 month ago
Sometimes Goober tried to fill the role.
JHP MyNameIsBond 1 month ago
yeah howard was just another color-less character (pardon the pun) that was on those color Eps
Jentzschsecond JHP 1 month ago
Hush now jhp it is only called black and white TV. Not sure why they included black.
KawiVulc 1 month ago
Six months seems about right. Kind of makes you wonder how many flops were just about one wise decision away from being wildly successful.
Runeshaper KawiVulc 1 month ago
Good point!
Andybandit 1 month ago
Yes, DK was so funny on TAGS, He made the show funny.
JHP Andybandit 1 month ago
the canned laugh track was his
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