I am a funny guy, or at least that's what I've been told on numerous occasions over the years. Part of my training, if there is such a thing, has been to collect other funny people along the way. Surrounding myself with funny people, or at least their ideas has kept me on this particular bent for decades now. Memorizing comedy albums and an entire film's dialogue was a vital and necessary function of my youth. And all that time I will confess to you now: I never thought Lucille Ball was all that funny.
Heresy, you say? Maybe the fault lies with the way I was introduced to Ms. Ball's body of work. When I was a kid, I saw her on "The Lucy Show." This wasn't the cool one, with Ricky and Fred and Ethel. This was the one with Mister Mooney, played by Gale Gordon. He showed up on the set ready for that slow burn that would have him fuming before the second commercial break. Vivian Vance came along from that first show to be the long-suffering best friend, but William Frawley had wandered on over to the Stephen Douglas household to take care of his Three Sons. That meant there was a whole lot more opportunity for Lucy to get into all kinds of wacky situations all by herself. And the fact that a lot of this took place in pretty garish color left me believing that this orange-haired lady just needed someone to show up in her life and keep her from putting all that soap in the washer in the first place.
That somebody would have been Ricky, bless him. But that was another show. That was back when we loved Lucy. Not that she wasn't any less prone to being stuck in vats or at the end of an accelerating conveyor belt of candy. That was the basis for every episode. The comic potential of this lady being put in all these dire situations was aided by the supporting cast. At the end of the day, we all really did love Lucy, even if she could be sort of a ninny at times. It was the love and acceptance that came at the end of the day that made it all okay. Lucy Carmichael in “The Lucy Show” was a widow, and that was just kind of sad to begin with. Even though Lucy Ricardo’s husband could be a bit of a Cuban hot-head at times, at least he was alive. And he could be pretty funny at times.
Lucy would have been one hundred years old this weekend. I have gone back and made myself aware of all that funny stuff Lucy did before I was born. Really funny stuff, even in Russian.