Category Archives: Carol Burnett

A reminder that we are blessed with very good people in America

I took a little time away today from politics and social commentary and, instead, concentrated on some uplifting, amusing, or entertaining videos.

I felt perfectly fine today, but I was mentally limp. I couldn’t seem to fire up the writing corner of my brain. I did respond to emails, pay bills, clean up my computer, etc., but I never got the inspiration I need to write meaty blog posts.

It occurred to me just now, though, that part of my lack of mental energy today may be because I tend to focus on the negative: the scandal here, the political problem there. I think those things need to be addressed, and they certainly fascinate me, but perhaps they’re wearing me down a bit. So today, I have something different: videos that will make you smile or make you cry in an uplifting way. Because we truly are blessed to live in America, a country with energy, innovation, imagination, humor, and some of the most decent people on the planet.

1. When the following video first came out, I shied away from it, because I was afraid it would be kind of splurgy — by which I mean artificial emotion deliberately intended manipulate people’s emotions. It’s not. It’s one of the most genuinely moving things I’ve ever seen. If you’re not familiar with the story behind the video, police officer Amber Guyger came home drunk, went into the wrong apartment, and shot the apartment’s resident Botham Jean, killing him. She was sentenced to ten years. This is the statement that Botham’s brother, Brandt, gave after his victim impact statement:

2. After you’ve finished wiping your eyes, here’s another video about good people helping a stranger because it uplifts all of them — and the key word here is UP:

3. To make you smile, Teddy Bear, the talking porcupine, shares his delight when he first tries an acorn:

4. This is truly a musical family (with the dog getting into the act about 40 seconds into the video):

5. If you haven’t yet watched this Travis Mills video, I highly recommend it. This was another I worried would be splurge, but it’s not. It made me laugh, cry, and think. I sent it to both of my children, both of whom refused to watch it. Maybe they will one day.

6. I vaguely remember seeing this “mini-musical” from the Carol Burnett show in real time, back in 1978 when it was first televised. I was already a Fred and Ginger fan then, but I’d actually only seen them a handful of times. After all, in 1978, the only way to watch old movies was at revivals in movie theaters (very rare) or on TV late night showings (if you happened to be up at 3 a.m.). I therefore hadn’t realized at the time how cleverly this “mini-musical” parodied all of the old Fred and Ginger movies. I also hadn’t realized how good Ken Berry (who just died last December) was. Had he been performing in Hollywood in the 1930s through 1950s, he might really have had a career in musical comedy.

Mostly, though, I was incredibly impressed by the quality of the whole segment. If it were in a real movie, I wouldn’t say that, but for a weekly revue show, this is impressive, whether you’re talking about the clever lyrics, the slightly warped melodies (recognizable to anyone familiar with the old movies), the dances, and the performers’ grasp of the material.

Television was less technologically sophisticated back then, but it was also less stupid, less mean, less violent, less edgy, less vulgar, less destructive of family values, and less biased. There’s a lot to be said for all those lesses.

7. I like chihuahuas. They have personality and they fear nothing.

I’ll be traveling tomorrow, so I don’t know what blogging will be like. Please consider this an open thread if nothing else is going on at the blog.

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RIP, Tim Conway

The death of Tim Conway marks the end of an era of wonderful American comedy that was based on simple things and aimed at a general audience.

Tim Conway was truly one of the funniest men in my remembered lifetime. Or maybe it was just that magical alchemy on the Carol Burnett show, especially in sketches with Harvey Korman. When I need a laugh I return to some of those sketches like a homing pigeon.

What’s especially delightful about Tim Conway’s comedic moments is that they deal with every day things. There are no politics, no wokeness, no identity issues — he just brought us ordinary situations in which human beings are being very, very silly in a wonderful way.

By the way, a lot of what Conway did was improvised. He’d rehearse it straight and then, with the director’s permission, throw surprises at his co-stars. The results were magical.

By the time he died, Tim Conway had already been retired from show business for a very long time. His passing, though, really represents the last gasp of an American style of entertainment meant for all Americans, not just for minute segments steeped in identity politics and voluntary misery.

Here are some of my favorite Tim Conway sketches from a man who lit up the screen with his wonderful humor:

 

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