When I say I’ve loved Carol Burnett since I was a kid, I don’t just mean I’m a fan of her turn as Miss Hannigan in Annie.
I mean I’ve seen every episode of both incarnations of her variety show. I mean I read her memoir when I was eight. Twice. I mean I do an impersonation of her impersonation of Doris Day in Pillow Talk.
They say you should never meet your heroes, but I did. And it was GLORIOUS.
…okay, I may be using the term “meet” loosely. I didn’t meet her one-on-one so much as sit in a big beautiful theatre with hundreds of other fans, soaking up her stories and her songs. I laughed at lot. I cried. A lot. It was a perfect night.
Here are some of the things Carol Burnett taught me that night and beyond:
1. WHO NEEDS AN INSIDE VOICE?!!! For those of you who know me, it will come as no surprise that for the past three decades (or so) I’ve been continually reminded to use my “inside voice.” I don’t have one of those. For those of you who don’t know me, this may not come as a surprise either considering my PENCHANT FOR CAPS LOCK.
Some of us are bred loud and there’s NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. JUST ENJOY THE NEVER-TO-BE-MUTED ENTERTAINMENT.
2. Funny is Funny. Go ahead and watch some of the sketches from The Carol Burnett Show on YouTube. I dare you not to laugh. I also dare you to strive to be universal and timeless with your art. Or, rather, I dare myself. You do you, baby.
3. Stop Being a Chicken. Carol’s comedy, her writing, her acting, all of it is brave and without ego. Ego is what makes us chicken. Kick the ego, kick the chicken-like behaviour.
4. Be Lucky. She told a story, one that I remember reading in her book, about a wealthy couple seeing her perform a scene when she was a struggling student and then offering to pay her way to New York. It’s a great story. Having talent and ambition isn’t always enough to equal a career. You need a little luck. But luck means putting yourself out there and pursuing it, not just waiting for it to knock “Shave and a Haircut” on your front door.
5. Love Your Life. There are plenty of tragedies in Carol Burnett’s life story. She says she’s always been a naturally happy person, but that she’s also learned to wake up every day and choose to be positive. If that isn’t a good motto for life, I don’t know what is.