Lucille Ball: ''I am not funny.''
If there was a Mount Rushmore of 20th-century comedic actors, Lucille Ball wouldn't just be featured on it, she'd be the architect. Her influence is unmistakable. If she's not the greatest, then the greatest absolutely learned from her. Lucy is the funniest. But not according to her.
If you clicked this article, infuriated at what was assuredly some misquote, please do read on. It appears as though, like always, Lucy has some 'splaining to do.
"I am not funny," Lucille Ball told Rolling Stone in 1983. "My writers were funny. My direction was funny. The situations were funny. But I am not funny. What I am is brave. I have never been scared. And there was a lot to be scared about. We were innovators."
While whether she's funny or not can be discussed and debated by comedy scholars, her innovation is inarguable.
Ball was quick to give credit to her collaborators, who deserve to be recognized alongside her. But, her statements weren't false modesty. Throughout her later career, Lucille Balls' skillset as an actor was frequently overlooked in favor of some comedic schtick. She'd honed her craft first onstage and in the movies, learning how to be believable as a performer. It was that foundation that allowed her to bring realism to comedic situations as her most famous character.
There's no doubt that I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show were endlessly funny. But without Balls' impressive acting assets, the shows would've been a series of wacky situations. Instead, it was her trained theatrical background that allowed Lucy to enter those situations and exaggerate authentic reactions to create classic comedy gold.
Weekdays at 12p ET | 9a PT