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Saturday, April 16, 2011


Sometimes, I'm a bit perseverative.

I listen to the same few songs over and over again until I know every lyric, every intonation and nuance by heart. I like the same restaurants, and frequently order the same thing (though I'll always branch out for an opportunity to consume, and then expel, a new animal). I like my same favorite movies and old television shows, and I watch them.

A lot.

I can recite most of "Dr. Strangelove", "The Pink Panther" films, "Monty Python" major motion pictures (and most of the more obscure television sketches) and the dialogue from all "Fawlty Towers" episodes, with proper character imitations-- male & female alike.

I'm the same way, apparently, with clips on YouTube.

A friend of mine from work, who has found a kindred spirit in me as someone who appreciates acts of a truly depraved nature, frequently sends me YouTube Poop clips, via email and text. Most of these clips are re-mixes of old Billy Mays sales pitches with... just... horrible things done to them.

Believe me, once you climb up on the Suicide Ladder, your life just won't be the same again.

I enjoy the clips my friend sends me, and I'll watch them a few times, just to relish in the choicest moments, and to encode them into my mind to be able to reference them in casual conversation with him at work the next day.

(Because that's how you make friends.)

As I said, I do enjoy these clips, these memes, these fast-and-funny, poorly-constructed though outrageous outbreaks of comedy at someone else's (a dead person's, no less) expense, but they're not my favorite thing to enjoy on YouTube. No, what I turn to most frequently when I'm trolling around the internet looking for a way to pass a few pleasurable moments with my trousers on, are old clips from "The Carol Burnett Show."

Not just clips: outtakes.

The show was rehearsed for a few hours and then was taped in mid-afternoon before a live audience. Inevitably, there were line-flubs and prop cock-ups and mis-cues and dropped lines, so the show was always taped again, in the evening, again, before a live audience. There were imperfections in each recording of each sketch, because it's basically live theatre-- no re-shooting, editing, or touch-ups. After taping, the producer and director would take whichever version of the sketch came out best, and put that in the final show to be aired.

Frequently, Tim Conway would do the first taping straight, or at least as straight as he could. After the taping, he would confer with the cameramen and tell them that something would be up during the second evening taping with a certain sketch. Tim loved nothing more than breaking up his co-star, Harvey Korman, who could scarcely keep a straight face when simply paired up with Conway, as he often was. Typically during the second taping, Tim would let something fly-- some goof or an unrehearsed gag or funny voice-- and Harvey would be in absolute hysterics, as would the audience.

Many of these "outtakes" exist because they aren't actually outtakes at all-- Tim would sometimes fuck around (in different ways) during both recordings of a given show, so that whichever version aired, it would feature some bust-up between Tim and Harvey. Their effect on each other was priceless.

Was it unprofessional? Oh, I don't know. Probably. Sure, as a trained actor and as someone who strives to be competent and impenetrable on stage at all times, yes, it smacks of amateur theatrics, but to watch these clips, to watch those two men look into each other's eyes, you see something else besides the devil-may-care attitude-- you see love. They loved each other. They loved to see and hear each other laugh, to behave like children together-- to have fun.

And I love watching Tim and Harvey have fun.

Life's so serious sometimes, I often think we make it more so than it really needs to be sometimes. I reproach myself sometimes for spending time sifting through old "Carol Burnett Show" outtakes and clips when I could be writing something important, and learning more about the world in which I live, or researching smarter ways to invest money that I don't really even have, but I guess it's important to have fun, too.

Tim and Harvey knew that. And we could learn a thing or two from them.


  1. Oh, please, if Carol Burnett outtakes are your #1 YouTube obsession, then car crashes might be a close second, maybe not in the number of hours, but in the amount of sheer enjoyment you derive. Sick, sick, enjoyment.

  2. Oh, my dear, such a contrary disposition becomes you not! Besides, am I to be permitted no private fetishes?

  3. what i always loved about these old comedies was that they were genuine. they had fun, they let themselves go.


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