Doesn’t everybody love Lucy? Over thirty years after the death of Lucille Ball, the iconic television character she created continues to provide comic relief to a world that is increasingly anything but comical. Anybody who doesn’t love Lucy is as suspect in my books as those who don’t love dogs.
I’m not sure whether it would fall into the realm of a sociologist or psychologist, or some other kind of -ologist, but someone should study what the relationship is between human behavior and one’s favorite I Love Lucy episode.
Do you suppose that those who favor “Vitameatavegamin” are more likely to not take responsibility for their excessive drinking? Is “Lucy is Enciente” the favorite of sentimental types and those who enjoy watching an episode about pregnancy avoid using the very word “pregnant”? (I get misty with that one every time.) If “Lucy’s Italian Movie” is the top of one’s list, should we assume the individual is likely to stomp on people the same way Lucy stomps on those grapes?
At the risk of giving myself away to a trained professional, my vote goes for “Job Switching” with its funny, if somewhat stereotypical, look at what happens when Lucy and Ethel go to work and Ricky and Fred do the homemaking. What we most readily remember about this one is the chocolate factory where the girls go to work.
All Lucy and Ethel have to do is wrap the chocolates coming out of the kitchen in paper and put them back on the conveyor belt to be moved to where they will be packed. Initially, the chocolates start appearing in a steady but manageable stream, gradually increasing in their numbers, until they’re coming in so fast that our heroines are plucking the chocolates off the belt and tucking them into their hats, clothes, and even their mouths.
When the supervisor comes back and finds no unwrapped chocolates, she calls to the kitchen “Speed it up a little,” resulting in even more chocolates pouring in and Lucy and Ethel going into full panic (and comedic) mode.
This classic comedy bit does not depend on dialogue for the humor. It’s what Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance do with the situation that makes us laugh. A bunch of talk does not achieve that goal—it’s their action that works.
I suspect that there a good many folks who, like me, sometimes feel like we’re trying to work that conveyor belt. We have no control over what or how much comes out of the kitchen. We’re just supposed to wrap up each little brown nugget that comes down the pike and send it on its way. Hiding them in our clothes or under our hats solves nothing. Stuffing them in our mouths is just eating the pain and likely results in unwanted weight gain.
The real solution to the problem that Lucy and Ethel had was to have more hands on deck. If Ricky and Fred were helping and had Carolyn Appleby and Betty Ramsey pulled up a stool, things would have been different. With Mrs. McGillicuddy available to work, I’m sure more of those little brown issues would have been wrapped up in tissues.
What would have been unimaginable back in 1952 was a room full of people commenting on iPads about the mess Lucy and Ethel were making, questioning or refusing to question what had gone on in the kitchen to create the problem, and speculating about how dire the situation was going to be in the packing room when the expected perfectly wrapped chocolates didn’t show up.
Nor could anyone have thought that there would be a flat-screen television hanging on the work room wall with a seemingly endless parade of professional commentators talking about those very same things. Of course those folks would also have something to say about the information and misinformation coming from the folks on the iPads.
What if Lucy and Ethel had responded to this challenge more logically? Suppose for a moment that they spent no time on anything but wrapping chocolates. Not even a moment spent throwing their hands in the air, shrugging their shoulders, or bitching and moaning about the situation. With focus, more of those tasty morsels would have been prepared for packing, even if some passed through unwrapped.
I’m glad that Lucy and Ethel didn’t use reason—it’s funnier that way. Not funnier, however, outside of a chocolate factory in a sitcom.