Laughter. We need more of it. And when “The Carol Burnett Show’s 50th Celebration” aired recently, there was plenty of much needed laughter. Fifty years ago on Sept. 11, 1967, Burnett launched her 11-year stint on her comedy-musical variety show.
As I watched, I instantly felt like myself as a little girl watching in the 1970s with my Mom and Dad. It was like going back in time. As I watched the sketches, I could hear my Mom laughing. I could feel the fabric of the 1970s couch my sisters Grace, Kathy and my brother Gary sat on.
I could see my Dad gently smiling as we all watched the show together as a family. It was a time shared between our family; a time filled with laughter; a time when our family sat on the ’70s plaid couch together on a Saturday night, to do nothing but be with one another and laugh.
Family. Laughter. Memories. Cherish.
While watching old sketches, I laughed just as hard as I did many years ago. And what surprised me more was how much my daughter laughed. It was the kind of laughter our children need more of; the deep down in the belly kind of laughter. It’s what every child and person needs more of; time away from the grind to simply laugh.
As we watched together, it was clear that Burnett had created the epitome of comedy and entertainment. The ensemble of talented people and the dynamic between them were remarkable. The humor was simple, spontaneous, and unpredictable; and many times the unscripted moments were the most memorable.
There were no jabs or hurtful comments disguised as humor. There were no ignorant statements to generate a laugh at the expense of others. And there was nothing offensive, demeaning or repulsive. It was silly, spontaneous sketches which made you giggle and smile; the way laughter should be, and the way humor and comedy was meant to be experienced.
What made us laugh then, makes us laugh today 50 years later. That is not a simple accomplishment. It was contagiously funny and made me realize how humor brings people together.
When I recognized how much I was laughing at the same thing I saw 50 years ago, it made me realize that we’ve complicated humor. It’s really not hard to make people laugh if you do it right.
It can be a look, silence between people or a gesture. This is what made us laugh back then and still does. I watched in amazement at the way my daughter laughed; same humor, new generation, same laughter.
She said this might be the funniest thing she had ever seen; and I could tell she meant what she said, solely by her laugh. It It was the kind of funny that lasts 50 years, transcends generations, and suspends all the ugliness of the world.
We all need more lightness, more innocent humor and less heaviness and sarcasm. Simple is good. Simple, fun humor keeps our world smiling and we need more reasons to laugh and smile.
The message here is more than “The Carol Burnett Show;” it’s about laughter with the ones you love. It’s about keeping lightness shining through when shadows of tragedy sneak in. It’s about treating one another with kindness and laughing with each other not at each other. It’s about recognizing how laughing at others divides.
Laughter is healing when there is kindness; it brings people together and joy to our everyday lives. More laughter, more goodness, more togetherness; it’s what we all need.
Jeannie Liao is a mother, writer, and former administrator for The Fresno County Office of Education and Clovis Unified School District. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.