Very seldom do you pick up a book and instantly think, "I'm at home." That feeling like the first sip of hot chocolate, where your stomach is adapting to the warm liquid and you can feel every drop down your throat.
When I saw Carol Burnett in person at The Chicago Theater, she was touting this book as coming out in September, and I was instantly itching to read it in the worst way. Suffice it to say, I stormed into Barnes and Noble on Tuesday and scooped this up faster than Spiderman running through a bug spray aisle.
Carol Burnett's new memoir, In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox, was, as cliched as this sounds, like sitting down for tea with an old friend. Carol Burnett is one of the oldest friends in my life, ever since that moment I saw her camping it up as Miss Hannigan in the movie version of the musical Annie:
From the moment I saw her stumbling, bumbling, and drink copious amounts of bootleg hooch, I knew this was the gal for me. Over the years, I've not only seen hundreds of episodes of her TV show, The Carol Burnett Show, but I've also devoured her three previous memoirs with unmitigated glee.
This new volume is her reminiscing solely on the show that made her a household name. From beginning to end, we get to read about her favorite sketches, favorite people, and favorite moments. It is divided into such chapters as Favorite Q and A's, Favorite Guests, and Favorite Sketches. Each section is jam-packed with little tales and tidbits with the names of those involved full intact, except for one.
Of course, the book is inhabited by a veritable "who's who" of celebrities from the 1960s and 70s. Notable events include surviving a little earthquake with The Jackson Five, receiving a phone call from Joan Crawford congratulating her on her Mildred Pierce parody, hamming it up with Lucile Ball, Vincent Price, Lily Tomlin, and Carol Channing. Carol Channing actually provided Carol (Carol's here and Carol's there, Carol's everywhere) with my favorite vignette from the book. I won't give it away, but let's just say it involves some sketchy game meat.
Burnett lavishes praise on her co-stars, and rightly so. With Harvey Korman's knack for timing, Vicki Lawrence's growing skill of transformation and the honing of her comedic timing, and Tim Conway's utter insanity helped make the show the iconic moment in Television history that it is today. For those of you who haven't seen it, I want you to take a break from my ramblings and watch this "blooper", one of the most side-splittingly funny and infamous moments in the history of comedy:
Now, who on TV could even think of an off-the-cuff rant like that? The answer: draw your own conclusions, because they don't pay me enough to both ask the question and answer it. Grow up, kiddies.
Though I abjectly hate when people say this, as I always think it rather stuffy and self-aggrandizing, but I read this entire book in the span of a mere few hours. The tone is conversational, the gossip is plenty (yet not gratuitous), and fun seeps out of every page like some divine luxurious cream laced with itching powder.
There is one caveat, though. There are several times where Carol simply copies and pastes the transcripts of several sketches with little to no commentary on them until the end of the excerpt. I, sadly, found myself skipping through to get to the commentary, as providing the script is a pale imitation of seeing it being performed. Though the words may be inherently funny, they are made hilarious by seeing those involved making asses out of themselves and having a grand ol' time. This, however, is a small quibble when compared to the amount of sheer joy that this tome provides.
If you are a fan of Carol or her show, I suggest sprinting to pick this up. Spending a few hours in her company, for the millionth time, was absolute pleasure.
And, to close, I shall include my favorite Q and A, which is pretty much anyone's reaction when someone is surprised that I adore Carol Burnett as much as I do:
"Carol: Hi there! What's your name?
Little Boy: Andrew
C: How old are you, Andrew?
C: And you know who I am?
LB: Surprisingly, yes."
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