“in such good company” by carol burnett
this is a candid glimpse behind the curtain of one of the most prolific sketch comedy shows of the 20th century. the head of that show was the incredible carol burnett. it was unheard of at the time for a woman to host a variety show. this was the most compelling part of the book. burnett tells stories of having to play nice and dance around getting the “bitch” label. she documents her struggle of getting her way—she was the boss, after all—but still be viewed as easy and nice. she shares one conversation that she had with lucille ball where they commiserate over this double standard. ball was experiencing the same thing on her show. after her split with desi arnaz, she had to take charge and she got flack for it.
the feminist aspect of burnett’s story wasn’t the only interesting thing. she emphasizes the crafts of writing and acting as important parts of creating a successful show. also, collaboration was vital. one time during rehearsal, they decided to play a sketch straight instead of for laughs and the result was like “a one-act tragedy.” burnett says this was a tribute to great writing, where played straight it could be serious and when played comically it could be funny. it was such an inspiring experiment and i loved that they took the time to do that.
most of her behind-the-scenes tidbits were fascinating. sometimes the inside jokes or scripts of skits were clunky and didn’t read very well, but there were few. i loved hearing reactions of celebrities to being parodied on the show. The “meet-cute” of how burnett met vicki lawrence was especially interesting. burnett’s voice in this book makes her seem very humble and down-to-earth, like she’s telling you these stories in confidence and that was pretty cool.
i received a copy of “in such good company” from blogging for books in an exchange for this honest review.