It was a balmy summer evening in the 70s. I can still hear the laughter echoing through our house as Mom, Dad, Sammy, the poodle, and I cuddled up on our orange couch, watching our family favorite – The Carol Burnett Show. It’s moments like those – mom laughing with her handkerchief in hand, dad’s boisterous chuckles, and Sammy trying to figure out the commotion – that feel just like yesterday.
There’s a certain charm in the delightful chaos of “The Butler and the Maid” sketch from that show. How can one forget the unparalleled comic timing of Lanscroft, played by the inimitable Harvey Korman, and Evelyn, personified by the dynamic Vicki Lawrence? Sitting across a table, sharing a meal, and all the loud melodrama ensues. But their impeccable butler, portrayed by my ever-beloved Tim Conway, and their spirited maid, none other than Carol Burnett herself, turned the sketch into a rollercoaster of laughs.
Whenever Lanscroft and Evelyn argue, their commands become a series of hilariously exaggerated tasks for their loyal servants. It’s not merely a comedy; it’s a dance of wit, satire, and slapstick. Watching Tim Conway, with his signature impromptu comedic chops, trying to serve while caught in their domestic squabble is the stuff of legends. As for Carol, her comedic brilliance shines through every subtle gesture and exaggerated expression. It’s no wonder I used to eagerly wait for the show every week, dreaming of the laughs it would bring.
Vicki Lawrence deserves a medal for her restraint. Trying to keep a straight face while Tim gets into one of his spontaneous, almost surreal, comedic modes is not a job for the faint-hearted. Many of us remember how often Harvey Korman would break into fits of laughter during sketches, but Vicki? Her discipline was at another level!
And ah, precious memories, indeed! I remember introducing my mom to this particular skit years later. Her eyes lit up as she recalled the sheer joy The Carol Burnett Show brought to our living room. Her anecdotes about the show brought back a cascade of cherished memories. And while we savored these heartwarming moments, we also spared a moment to honor the genius of Tim Conway, whose passing left a void in the world of comedy.
By no means is the brilliance of this skit restricted to the older generation. It’s one of those timeless classics that will elicit belly laughs across ages. If you’ve seen it, you’d know. And if you haven’t, let me tell you, there’s a treat waiting for you. But before you go, if this little trip down memory lane resonated with you, show some love by liking and sharing. There’s always room for more laughter in the world.