Thursday, November 10, 2005

Carol Burnett Brings On the Pain

Here comes the internet once again to remind me of long-buried childhood trauma:

The Eunice sketches were clearly drawn from Carol’s own troubled upbringing and had a darker edge than almost anything I can remember from that era. One memorable installment featured Eunice proudly going to Hollywood to sing “Feelings” (unironically) on The Gong Show. When, after a few tortured verses, she was gonged, the camera cut to a close-up of her stunned reaction, then slowly faded out on her disappointment. It was chilling, and I’ve never forgotten the power of not getting a laugh.
I remember that one well. I didn't understand it, to be honest. I didn't understand anything about "Eunice". She was a weird character with a weird name. She looked funny and talked funny. Yet, for some reason, Eunice was popular. It was just something I had to suffer through until Tim Conway and Harvey Korman came back on to make me laugh.

The Gong Show segment should have been better. I loved watching the Gong Show, and it seemed like a good way to make one Eunice segment interesting. Instead, it scarred me for life. When Eunice got gonged and the camera closed in on her face and the picture faded out, yeah, it was chilling alright. But not because I felt any kind of emotion towards the character.

I was chilled to the bone because I though that the television set was broken, and I would be blamed because I was in the room all alone! Immediately after the fade-out, I switched off and went to go do something else. Later I went back and found my mother watching TV as if nothing had ever happened to the set. How? I was sure that something had happened to it.

There was only one logical conclusion: "Eunice" was such a stupid, dumb, unfunny, boring part of the show that the television set revolted and turned itself off. What self-respecting TV shows something as horrible as "Eunice" anyway?

Well, it made perfect sense to me when I was ten years old. In a way, it still does.


ignudo said...

I recall those late nights when my folks would watch The Carol Burnett Show after we kids had gone to bed. We could hear the familiar music mix with our parents' laughter.

Sometimes we got to stay up and watch.

jipzeecab said...

And you've reminded me suddenly of a two year love affair I had with a South Florida woman who was a dead ringer for Vicki Lawrence..
Actually I really remember Carol for her appearances in the 50's on the Gary Moore Show. And of course the silly audience ask questions segments of her own show where Carol would plop down on the edge of the stage..And then there was the whole thing with the curtain rod and drapes.