You have to give it to Lucille Ball. While there are countless stories about her latter years in show business and how much of a tyrant she was, she seemed to show a lot of respect for Carol Burnett. Burnett was prompted by network executives to build a big time television special. Burnett recruited Ball, who was more than happy to co-star. Burnett, an old school queen of comedy, shared the stage with Ball, another titan of comedy.
The one hour special features two long comedy segments starring Burnett who shares the stage with Mostel first and Ball second. Both co-stars handle the comedy skits with about as much professional prowess as you can expect from these icons, and it makes for a mostly fun and raucous special. Burnett is great with Mostel in a skit about an arguing married couple who garner a new taste for romance. Ball plays Rita, a woman trying to catch a bus who is being held back by her friend, played by Burnett, who wants Rita to give her newborn baby the attention she deserves. Burnett and Ball are magnificent together and never miss a single beat in their comic delivery and staging of pointed and witty dialogue.
Both co-stars share two skits with Burnett, the finale being Burnett sharing the stage with Ball as a pair of cleaning women bickering over the movie studio they work for. It’s a sheer thrill to see both titans of comedy sharing the stage and working off of each other’s talents, and deserves to be seen by anyone who is a fan of classic comedy. Even if the comedy doesn’t suit you, it should be a template for aspiring performers. Featured on the DVD from Time Life, is the musical comedy “Once Upon a Mattress” with Burnett co-starring and spoofing the tale of “The Princess and the Pea,” and the bonus “Chairwoman” sketch from “Carol and Company.” The special also includes vintage television ads during the breaks which should be a jolt of nostalgia for seventies kids.
For more in comedy, Time Life releases “Bob Hope Entertaining the Troops,” a pair of classic TV specials that chronicled only the surface of what was a long and noble legacy for the comedy titan Bob Hope. Many of the tours Bob Hope engaged in to entertain troops at war aired on television and Time Life makes two of them available in an over two hours DVD release. There’s Bob Hope celebrating Christmas around the Globe with the USO in 1971, and bringing on a bunch of guest stars to trade jokes with him. Johnni Bench visits, and the audience gets to ogle an especially sexy Ursula Andress. There are a host of other guests, including beauty queens and while Hope indulges the troops in fun song and dance numbers as well as great comedy.
There’s Bob Hope celebrating Christmas at the USO in 1970 where Hope has a good time with the troops, taking it as good as he gives it. One of the fun running gags is the audience mistaking him for Bing Crosby, which inspires some good comebacks from Hope. The comedian also has some fun song and dance numbers with beauty queens and Connie Stevens, with who he performs alongside. Though this is only one disc in a humongous collection, which Time Life is prone to do, this is still worth a watch for folks that appreciate historic and comedic artifacts. Hope was there every year helping the troops laugh in the face of pain and misery and it’s worthwhile entertainment.