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I'm so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh or sing a song
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, 'So long.
A hit sketch comedy show on CBS, running for 11 seasons. The show followed a very simple format of comedy sketches, TV and movie parodies, and musical numbers. What set it apart was how off the wall the actors and writers would take things. Basically anything went as long as it was funny (and could air on TV, of course).
Provides Examples Of:
- Acting for Two: Many sketches would have Carol playing twins, usually to spoof films in which actresses like Bette Davis did the same. Examples include "A Swiped Life" and "Cobumble".
- One question period had Carol tell a childhood anecdote in which she actually pretended to be a set of twins, complete with changing of clothes, etc.
- Affectionate Parody: Given the type of show this is, the bulk of its film and TV parodies firmly place themselves in deconstruction territory.
- Author Avatar: The Charwoman.
- Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: "The Dentist Sketch" in which a hapless dentist (Tim Conway) keeps accidentally injecting various parts of his body with Novocaine.
- Blooper: Of course a compilation of them was released.
- Break the Haughty: Eunice. Jesus Christ, Eunice.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: A literal example.
- The Chew Toy: Most of Tim's and many of Carol's characters, mainly the Oldest Man and Stella Toddler, respectively. And yes, the two characters did cross over.
- Chroma Key: Used (and Played for Laughs) in some closing mini-musicals from later seasons, like "Beach Blanket Boo-Boo".
- Corpsing: Tim Conway was notorious for breaking up the others on the show. In many of the sketches featuring Conway and Harvey Korman, it was all Korman could do to get through it without collapsing. Causing Carol Burnett herself to lose it was a major feat, but Tim Conway accomplished it several times. (Here, for instance.)
- It got to the point that the cast would have a weekly pool to see how long it would take Tim Conway to make someone (mainly Harvey Korman) break character.
- Costume Porn: Bob Mackie did virtually all the outfits on the show, from the grand to the silly.
- In the case of "The Flasher" sketch, Bob Mackie literally was a costume porn-artist.
- Crazy Prepared: Initially, the director in "Rhoda Dimple":
Rhoda Dimple: Wait a minute, hold it, von Megaphone Mouth, We ain't through with the picture yet!
Director: I want to thank the sound department for their excellent work...
Rhoda Dimple: I'm talkin' to you!
Director: The lighting department for their excellent contribution...
(Rhoda kicks the director in the shin, but he doesn't react to it)
Director: The Los Angeles Dodgers for the shin guards...
(Rhoda punches him in the gut, but this makes a metallic sound)
Director: ...and the chest protector!
(Rhoda angrily bites his hand)
Director: And also Dr. Dondelhoit for the rabies shot!
- Crossover: One "Family" sketch had Eunice be a contestant on The Gong Show, with appearances by Chuck Barris, Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan, and Allen Ludden. This is especially brilliant when you remember that Ludden's wife (now-widow) is Betty White, who played Eunice's sister Ellen in the "Family" sketches and on Mama's Family.
- Curtain Clothing: The famous parody of the "curtain dress" from Gone with the Wind.
Rhett: That gown is gorgeous.
Scarlett: Thank you, I saw it in the window and just couldn't resist it.
- Disaster Movie: Parodied in several sketches, most notably "Disaster '75", which skewers the Airport series six years before Airplane!.
- Dysfunctional Family: Take a wild guess.
- Early Installment Weirdness: "The Family". Any Mama's Family fans unfamiliar with the sketches are likely to be surprised at Mama's nastier demeanor (though it did continue into Mama's Family's early episodes) and much of the focus being on Eunice, who's presented here as more sympathetic. Also, in addition to Eunice and Ellen, a number of other Harper children are introduced, but are never seen again, most notably Philip Harper (Roddy McDowall), who was originally the focus of the first sketch.
- Edited for Syndication: The intros with the audience and non-musical sketches were edited into the half hour 1978 show Carol Burnett and Friends.
- The Eponymous Show
- Fancy Dinner: A notable example being with the Harper-Higgins. Needless to say, Hilarity Ensues.
- Follow the Leader: When CBS aired the reunion special, it proved to be a stunning ratings success. CBS and other networks promptly went out of their way to produce show retrospectives to cash in.
- Funny Foreigner: Mr. Tudball (and by extension Mrs. Tudball).
- Girl Scouts Are Evil: A recurring sketch with Carol playing a girl scout who blackmails people into buying lots of cookies. One of those people being played by Vincent Price.
- Inept Talent Show Contestant: As mentioned, Eunice has a spot on The Gong Show and is so convinced that her singing talent will be her ticket away from her family that she does a lot of bridge-burning before the show. Bad idea.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: The first five seasons of the series (1967-1972) are co-owned with Bob Banner, preventing them from subsequent syndication and home video releases. With Banner's death in 2011, the outcome of this looks uncertain.
- The bulk of the musical numbers have not been seen since the original network airings due to licensing issues. Eventually, a DVD collector's edition of the show which includes the musical numbers was released by mail order offering only 2 episodes per $19.95 disc, the extra money going for the licensing.
- Memetic Hand Gesture: Carol's ear tug.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: A non-malicious example: One "Family" sketch has the character of Mavis Danton (played by guest star Madeline Kahn) constantly refer to Eunice as "Bernice".
- Nice Character, Mean Actor: Played straight in-universe by Shirley Temple parody Rhoda Dimple.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed
- Oh Crap: Surprisingly averted in "The Little Foxies", a takeoff on The Little Foxes. Burnett's character, having supposedly become the last-surviving heir of her family, opens her late husband's safe, but instead of riches she's encountered by a loaded cannon. The resulting deadpan reaction is far more within My God, You Are Serious territory.
- Once a Season: Carol would always have her good luck charm in the form of Jim Nabors host the first episode of each season.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Take a wild guess.
- Playing Gertrude: Vicki Lawrence, most famously. Even better, a Hamlet musical sketch had her literally play this trope.
- Politician Guest Star: Then-Governor of California Ronald Reagan appeared onstage during one episode's question period.
- Self-Deprecation: The ending to this sketch.
- Shotgun Wedding: Eunice and Ed are implied to have had this:
Eunice: (to Ed) It is time we satisfied [Mama's] curiosity! Go on! Go on, just tell her what happened that night that I went with you and then later on, we had to get married!
Mama: I get your drift, Eunice. Welcome to the club.
- Significant Monogram: At least one version of the Animated Credits Opening took the CBS in "From CBS Television City" and used the letters to write The Carol Burnett Show.
- Soap Opera: Parodied in the recurring sketch "As the Stomach Turns".
- Spin-Off: As mentioned, Mama's Family.
- Tarzan: The audience often would request Carol do her trademark 'Tarzan Yell'.
- Throw It In: The show would only do two takes a sketch, meaning even flubbed lines would get thrown in the broadcast.
- Til Murder Do Us Part: Played straight and/or parodied in several sketches, including this one. Most of these attempts go as well as you'd expect.
- Unlimited Wardrobe
- Unsettling Gender Reveal: The ending to this sketch.
- Variety Show
- What Could Have Been: In interviews, Tim Conway said that in the 80s he was offered a chance to star in a Mr. Tudball spin-off. He declined because he didn't see much potential for storylines, plus the fact that Carol would not be playing Miss Wiggins.
- White Dwarf Starlet: Nora Desmond, Carol's spoof of Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond.