People of a certain age will always associate Saturday nights of their youth with Carol Burnett. “The Carol Burnett Show” was a mainstay on CBS from 1967 to 1978, with several more episodes added in 1991. It created some of the most memorable characters in television history, and also featured legends like Vickie Lawrence, Tim Conway, and Harvey Korman.
While most of the legendary cast has long since passed on, Carol is still going strong at the age of 89. Recently she had some interesting observations about comedy, her legacy, and why she doesn’t think her show could be done now. Fox News reports: “I’d like to see variety come back,” Burnett told the outlet. “But [the networks] could never do what we did because I think the cost would be extravagant now.”
“We had a 28-piece orchestra, 12 dancers,” she added. “We had 60 to 75 costumes a week. Bob Mackie designed for our guest stars. All of that you couldn’t do today. It would be too much. We did kind of a Broadway mini-musical comedy review every week. And that couldn’t be done today.”
It is true that since the popularity of reality television has exploded that networks lean towards less expensive programming. A network can throw together any reality show for a fraction of the price of a sitcom or drama, no less a sketch show requiring guests, different sets and a live orchestra. It is a bygone era to be sure.
Burnett thinks a variety show could succeed, but doubts any network would take the risk. She said: “But there could be a hybrid of some way to do a variety show because there are people who could certainly do variety,” Burnett continued. “But I don’t think a network would take a chance. I just wish they would.”
— E! News (@enews) April 19, 2023
Interestingly enough, when Burnett started her show, it was against the wishes and advice of several network executives. Sketch comedy was considered a man’s game, and Carol was encouraged to do a sitcom. She wasn’t having it: And [they] had a sitcom they wanted me to do, to which I said, ‘I don’t want to be the same person every week. I want variety, I want music, I want different characters to do,’” Burnett said. “They had to put us on the air because I had a 10-year contract … I just said, ‘This is what I know, and this is what I want to do.’ I wasn’t deterred at all. I just simply said, ‘I want to have fun.’ And I pushed for that. They had to put it on the air.”
Turns out Carol Burnett had a vision, and she knew exactly what she was looking at. The show became a monster hit, and Burnett cemented her legacy as the leading lady of comedy.
Network television is a wasteland of woke themes and forced diversity, and a show like “The Carol Burnett Show” could never be made today. Indeed, that is a shame because an entire generation has to grow up without the laughs and joy that Carol Burnett brought to television.
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