The Carol Burnett Show is a sketch comedy television show starring Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner. It originally ran on CBS from September 11, 1967 to March 29, 1978 for 278 episodes, and originated from CBS Television City's Studio 33 (also known as the Bob Barker Studio).
A unique feature of the show consisted of a question and answer segment involving the audience in CBS Studio 33 and Carol Burnett. Burnett usually did this for about 3-4 minutes at the start of most shows. Burnett would ask for the lights in the audience to be turned up ("Let's bump up the lights...") and then randomly pick audience members who raised their hand to ask her a question. This informality was possible due to the design of Studio 33; cameras were to the left and right of the stage with one below in the pit and one suspended, so the actors were very close to the audience.
Sample question from young woman in audience: "Have you ever taken acting lessons?" Carol: "Yes, I have." Audience member: "Do you think it did any good?"
The show was rehearsed for three to four hours each day until the Friday tapings, when two recordings were made. As there were only two recordings, if an actor flubbed a line in both takes, the error appeared in the broadcast, giving the show some immediacy. Pick ups were exceptions, and usually only used for musical numbers.
Through this program, Burnett became known for her acting and talent, and for ending each show by tugging her ear, which was a message to the grandmother who had raised her to let her know that she was doing well and that she loved her.
A true variety show in its simplest of forms, The Carol Burnett Show struck a harmonious chord with viewers through parodies of films ("Went With the Wind"), television ("As the Stomach Turns") and commercials. Burnett and team struck gold with the original skit "Mama's Family" which eventually spun off into its own television show starring Lawrence.
The show also became known for its closing theme song, with the following lyrics:
Vicki Lawrence was the only cast member, other than Burnett, to remain with the series for its entire run. Tim Conway, though well remembered for his appearances on the show, did not become a full-time cast member until 1975. Harvey Korman left the show prior to its final season; he was temporarily replaced in the fall of 1977 by Dick Van Dyke. Original cast member Lyle Waggoner left the series in 1974 to pursue a dramatic acting career and the next year was cast in Wonder Woman.
Burnett went on to star in movies, write a Broadway play, and continues to make appearances. Conway and Korman travelled to do comedy routines all over the country. Vicki Lawrence had a U.S. #1 hit record in 1973 ("The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia") and went on to star in several shows of her own (Mama's Family, the NBC daytime edition of Win, Lose or Draw, and her short-lived talk show, Vicki) and continues to perform around America writing and performing comedy sketches.
Following repeats of The Carol Burnett Show on CBS from June to August 1978, 4 new shows were aired between August and September 1979 on ABC as Carol Burnett & Company, just prior to the beginning of the regular fall season and plans were announced for this to become an annual event but it did not. NBC aired a comedy half-hour repertory series called Carol & Company between March 1990 and July 1991 with regulars Peter Krause, Jeremy Piven, Terry Kiser, Meagan Fay, Anita Barone, and Richard Kind (and occasional guest stars such as Betty White and Burt Reynolds; each week's show was a different half-hour comedy play.
CBS brought back The Carol Burnett Show for another run in the fall of 1991; new regulars included Meagen Fay and Richard Kind (brought over from the NBC show), and Chris Barnes, Roger Kabler and Jessica Lundy. Only nine episodes of this revival were aired.
In January 1993, the cast of The Carol Burnett Show got together for a 2-hour reunion special, The Carol Burnett Show: A Reunion featuring several clips of the show's best moments from 1967-78 with the gang reminiscing about their time together on the show.
In the fall of 2001, Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman and Vicki Lawrence reunited for a new special broadcast entitled The Carol Burnett Show: Show Stoppers, which consisted mostly of bloopers and outtakes from the series. The program was a major ratings success; the media credited its timing, being broadcast not long after the September 11, 2001 attacks, with contributing to its success.
In May 2004, Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman and Lyle Waggoner made another reunion special, The Carol Burnett Show: Let's Bump Up the Lights!, featuring one of Carol's favorite ongoing bits, turning up the house lights and then taking questions from members of the studio audience.
A COMEDY OF CONVERSATION BE IT ON `MCHALE'S NAVY,' `THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW' OR ON THE PHONE, TIM CONWAY CREATES LAUGHTER.(LIFE & LEISURE)
Oct 29, 1999; Byline: AMY BIANCOLLI Staff writer Out of the blue, Tim Conway phones. Not without cause -- he's got gigs with Harvey Korman at...