Reviewed by Kristin
With her self-deprecating sense of humor, Carol Burnett revisits the 276 episodes of her variety show featuring hundreds of musical acts, guests, and her regular compatriots: Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and later Tim Conway.
Some of the show’s most famous sketches are described. Anyone else remember the dentist sketch with Korman and Conway? The newly minted dentist (Conway) is so nervous that he jabs himself with Novocain, rather than applying it to his patient (Korman.) With physical comedy that goes on, and on, and on, Conway was known for ad libbing extra bits that had not been previously rehearsed. No wonder the actors broke character and laughed once in a while! (Burnett jokingly estimates that they cracked up around 7% of the time.)
Who could forget Burnett’s portrayal of “Starlett O’Hara” in their production of “Went With the Wind”? Just thinking of her walking down the stairs in the green velvet curtain dress, curtain rod still attached, makes me laugh. Bob Mackie designed this dress and it was later displayed at the Smithsonian, confirming its honored place in American television history.
I really enjoyed this book. However, since I read Burnett’s 2011 memoir This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection just a few months ago, I found a lot of repetition. In fact, the beginning section had me wondering if there would be any new material at all. Once she gets to the sections on recurring sketches and special guest stars over the years, Burnett does break out some new stories, at least ones that I hadn’t previously heard. This Time Together did spend more time on her childhood with Nanny and her adult life with husbands (3) and children (also 3.) In Such Good Company, Burnett jumps right back into the hilarious stories that defined her show.
One final interesting bit: Burnett describes her character work on the show as being extremely stress relieving. She said that because she could have a tantrum as “Eunice” or do her Tarzan yell, she never built up physical stress as her body would just let it go while she performed. Even now, Burnett claims to relieve her stress by going someplace private and letting out a big Tarzan yell. That, I would like to hear.