Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stopping at Childhood

One of my postulations as to why Lucille Ball was so successful at situational comedies is that she retained a childlike way of looking at the world, at situations and at people.


I guess that all along, she had missed her carefree early childhood, when her doting father was still alive and her mother had no worries but to make the family happy. As a child, Lucy had to mature quicker than her age. She had to deal with the premature death of her father, the birth of a new baby which was a difficult adjustment for an only child, a new stepfather who treated her as if she wasn't there, being sent to an older couple who were so strict on her that she felt mentally tortured, the unlawful accusation of her grandfather which made her distrust the law forever, and many more sad events... With a life full of traumatic events, it was no wonder that a part of her stopped forever at the age of  4, where things were warm and rosy.  
As she had mentioned, in order to be convincing and to evoke knee-slapping laughter, the actor has to believe in the situation and the actions that are called for. What makes it better than to analyze the situation from a child's point of view? A child's logic is sweetly simple and naive, and it's no wonder people are always drawn to children. It's that compelling naivety that Lucille had managed to convey to the audience that makes even the most hardhearted person alive laugh endearingly.

Through her childhood and adolescence, Lucy had utilized her powers of observation. Most comedians can only work from a certain angle; Lucy could be anything and everything. She could be the doting screwball housewife, the nervous gal about to get it, the glamorous showgirl, the sexy Marilyn, the amnesic child, the clown, hell, she could even peel a potato convincingly!

Of course, having a husband Desi Arnaz with a knack for identifying what was funny and what was not, a supporting actress Vivian Vance with great chemistry, and a comedian William Frawley who was funny even just standing and doing nothing made the sitcom even more successful.

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