Once upon a time, television featured programs known as variety shows. Though this genre is practically extinct today, variety shows were once the funniest things on television, and none were funnier than The Carol Burnett Show. I used to watch this - hey, comedy is comedy - and even today there is nothing that can touch it. Blessed with good writers, the fabulous comedienne Carol Burnett, and a stellar ensemble cast, including the underrated Tim Conway, The Carol Burnett Show was so good that it lasted for 11 seasons. Eleven! And this doesn't count at least one resurrection. From the IMDb:
The Carol Burnett Show was one of the most fabulous shows ever on TV, and certainly the best of its type, the variety show, which is gone now. Carol, her delightful ensemble cast of Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, and her many guest stars always delivered a great show.
What stands out for me is her film takeoffs. I had the misfortune of seeing "Mildred Fierce" before I saw the real "Mildred Pierce." So I laughed all the way through Mildred Pierce. Her marvelous Joan Crawford - when I saw Mommie Dearest, all I could think of was Carol Burnett. Sunset Boulevard - when I saw the movie after seeing her takeoff, she was all I could think of.
But there was one movie takeoff that beat them all - Went With the Wind. An absolute classic. If Carol Burnett had in her entire career only walked down those stairs wearing the rods still in the drapes and said, "Thank you. I saw it in the window and I just couldn't resist it," it would have been enough to make her a superstar.
And it wasn't just the film parodies that were so good; ordinary life events became hilarity unbound, especially with Tim Conway and Harvey Norman playing off of each other. YouTube offers many episodes and segments and three are embedded below. The first is the famous and peerless Went With the Wind sketch. The second is the infamous 'elephant' sketch, wherein a deadpan Tim Conway cracks up the rest of the cast, who have to resort to hiding their faces to keep the audience from seeing them laughing. The third is the full 'Dentist' sketch, in which Harvey Korman is laughing so hard at Tim Conway that he actually wets his pants on stage. You won't find anything that funny on Saturday Night Live.
The famous Went With the Wind episode.
Tim Conway's Elephant Story
The Dentist Sketch - Harvey Korman Wets His Pants