The 1970s were a golden era for television. Amidst the variety of shows that aired during this decade, The Carol Burnett Show stood out, not only because of its comedic genius but also because of the raw talent showcased by its stars. One particular skit that resonates with the era’s vibrancy is the “Behind the Scenes Commercial Bloopers” episode.
Aired in 1974, the skit begins with the simple yet thought-provoking question: “Why do you think it takes several days to shoot a short commercial?” Carol Burnett sets the scene, speaking about the importance of commercials in television shows. Despite the brevity of an average commercial lasting only 45 seconds, the time taken to film it is surprisingly lengthy. The reason? The delightful bloopers and unexpected moments that arise during the filming process.
As the audience revels in the Saturday night atmosphere, Carol alongside co-star Lyle Waggoner, engage in a series of mock commercials, each one more hilarious than the last. Waggoner, standing tall and dapper, supports the comedic narrative of these mock advertisements, while Burnett’s impeccable timing and unpredictable reactions send the audience into peals of laughter.
The skit wonderfully captures the era’s essence, particularly when showcasing products from the period. From the ‘pictureoid’ camera that notifies when a picture is ready with a small beep to the promotion of orange juice from the Florida Sunshine tree, each segment is a trip down memory lane. The interaction with ‘professional basketball star Ted tall’ about the ‘stay moist power of new prize shaving cream’ is humorously juxtaposed with Ted’s towering height.
For families gathered around their television sets, the skit wasn’t just a comedic segment; it was a journey back to their own experiences of watching commercials, reminiscing about products they used or discussed. Many could recall times when a family member would humorously imitate or jest about a particular ad, bringing the household into fits of laughter.
The genius of Carol Burnett and her ensemble cast is evident when showcasing the product ‘cleano.’ As Burnett earnestly promotes the detergent that promises to rid stubborn stains, one can’t help but imagine a 1970s housewife nodding in agreement, only to burst into laughter at the exaggerated antics on screen.
But, perhaps the highlight of the skit is the segment featuring 17 cab drivers, all shaved with the same blade. The punchline, as one driver is backstage ‘getting a transfusion,’ showcases the seamless blend of scripted comedy and unexpected improvisation that The Carol Burnett Show was renowned for.
For those who wish to revisit this golden piece of television history, the skit is available online. Dive into a sea of nostalgia and relive those delightful moments, where family gatherings were filled with hearty laughter and the sheer joy of watching the comedic brilliance of Carol Burnett and her team.