Carol Burnett loved a good spoof on The Carol Burnett Show
Everything was starting to change for television in the 1970s. It was the time of the Archie Bunker character to rise up from the ashes and enter our lives. Sitcoms, variety shows, anti-heroes, fantasy and more diversity within cast and crew ignited a change.
To adapt to the changing landscape of TV, many television shows had to adjust the way they did things. The Carol Burnett Show was one of them.
"We're changing," Burnett said in a 1972 interview with Lancaster New Era. "We're cutting down on the double entendre lines. Our philosophy on the show has always been, well, it's nice if we throw in lines and situations that go over kids' heads and the parents get it. But if it's right on the head — no, we're getting away from that and I thought it's for the better."
A part of the change came during The Carol Burnett Show's sixth season. The show used to have a 10 p.m. airtime, which Burnett said she preferred, but with the change in TV, the timeslot for the show was moved to 8 p.m.
The 8 p.m. timeslot gave the show more exposure which led to higher ratings from both kids and their parents. According to the interview, Burnett said she loved satiric lampoons of movies, old and new. And she was really good at doing them too.
However, not everyone loved Burnett's spoofs. In fact, there were a few actors who really despised being the brunt of Burnett's jokes. Burnett's spoof of Love Story, a 1970 romantic drama, left a couple people questioning her humor.
"I did hear from Ali MacGraw and she said she enjoyed what we did, but Ryan O'Neal was sore about it," Burnett said. "That role meant so much to him. He cornered me afterward at a party and expressed a lot of outrage that we would do such a thing in the way we did. I let him talk, and then I said to him 'Ryan, come on now, we've even spoofed Doris Day!'"
And she did. In fact, she spoofed over hundreds of TV shows and films onstage during The Carol Burnett Show. Some of these spoofs included: Esther Williams, Joan Crawford, Gone with the Wind, Cleopatra, Tarzan, Dragnet and more.
At the time of this interview, Burnett hadn't had the chance to meet either Doris Day or Joan Crawford.
"Actually, I'd be upset if I knew they were upset, but I just can't believe they were," Burnett said. "Sure, when I did my Doris Day thing, I over-bubbled — well, you have to exaggerate in a sketch. That's what a comedy sketch is all about — funny exaggeration. I'd be willing to give equal time. I mean, if Joan Crawford wanted to do me!"
In terms of comedy material, Burnett knew exactly where she wanted the show to go and how to progress it. Not only was she ready for change, in many ways, she was excited about it.
"I have no desire to do any chi-chi stuff, and I don't want to do serious social satire," Burnett said. "The best thing we do is takeoffs on things people are familiar with — movies, soap operas. I like our soap opera spoofs, even though some soap fans write in to protest. But all we're doing is satirizing what's actually on the air in the afternoons. All we do is try to make the sketches a little dippy, and you know, nutty."
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