Carol Burnett – Queen of Comedy
'Keep Out,' Carol Burnett Seemingly naked, American comedienne and actress Carol Burnett hides behind a large wooden sign labelled 'Keep Out' during a skit on 'The Carol Burnett Show,' October 28, 1967. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
I have always enjoyed Carol Burnett’s brand of comedy. Her humor comes through loud and clear without being inappropriate, raunchy or politically incorrect. That being said, I don’t think anyone who knows me would consider me a prude. There is just something so fascinating to me about the way her mind works.
Burnett was the product of a broken home; both of her parents being alcoholics. She was ultimately raised by her grandmother in a series of less than glamorous places. Burnett described herself as quiet and shy as a child. She was also very insecure about her looks. But when she found her niche in comedy, she couldn’t be stopped.
Carol Burnett’s mother never approved of her acting aspirations. She was possibly one of the biggest reasons for her low self-esteem. Her mother encouraged her to be a writer instead of a performer. Burnett reported, “She wanted me to be a writer. She said you can always write, no matter what you look like. When I was growing up she told me to be a little lady, and a couple of times I got a whack for crossing my eyes or making funny faces. Of course, she never, I never, dreamed I would ever perform.”
According to Burnett, “They laughed, and it felt great. All of a sudden, after so much coldness and emptiness in my life, I knew the sensation of all that warmth wrapping around me. I had always been a quiet, shy, sad sort of girl and then everything changed for me. You spend the rest of your life hoping you hear a laugh that great again.”.
The Carol Burnett Show was something I looked forward to watching every week. The core cast included, of course, Carol Burnett, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman. The group had this awesome chemistry, worked well together and never failed to make us laugh!
Often, they would abandon the scripts and just adlib. It also wasn’t uncommon for them to break character and laugh at each other and themselves.
If you remember, Carol Burnett was known well for her famous Tarzan yell. Among other things, it was her signature. One time she was out shopping and realized that she didn’t have her wallet when she got to the check-out counter. Of course, she was easily recognizable and was told that if she would give them a sample of her famous yell, they would accept that as identification. She gladly obliged, only to be approached by a security guard pointing a gun at her. That story actually sounds like it could have been a skit on the show!
The Carol Burnett Show brought us characters like Eunice, Mrs. Wiggins & Mr. Tudball, Nora Desmond and Chiquita just to name a few.
Bob Mackie, a famous clothing designer, created all of the costumes used on The Carol Burnett Show. He has designed gowns for countless famous celebrities and actresses over the years. Ironically, one of his greatest creations was probably the dress worn by Starlet O’Hara in the Went With the Wind skit; a spoof on the famous, Gone With the Wind movie.
Burnett was known for ending her shows with the song, I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together, and her famous ear tug. That ear tug was her way of sending the message to her grandmother, "Hello, I love you.".
Burnett recently celebrated her 50th anniversary of making America laugh. What a contribution she has made to the world of comedy!
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