Carol Burnett: I’m Bored with TV Comedy Producers Saying Everything Has to Be ‘Edgy’

poses in the press room during The 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. 25650_015
Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Turner

Veteran comedienne and actress Carol Burnett, whose variety program The Carol Burnett Show ran for 11 years (1967-1978) on CBS, complained on Friday she is bored with the state of comedy TV.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter ahead of receiving the SAG Life Achievement Award in Los Angeles, Burnett, now 82, dished about the evolution of the genre and said she missed good old-fashioned jokes and sketches, such as the legendary Tim Conway and Harvey Korman “Dentist Skit.”

“Funny is funny. I dare anyone to look at Tim Conway and Harvey Korman doing the dentist sketch, which is more than 40 years old, and not scream with laughter,” said Burnett.

The TV legend then complained she has grown bored with today’s producers saying everything has “got to be edgy.”

“Edgy is fine — I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination — but what’s wrong with a good ol’ belly laugh? I miss that,” she said. “A lot of comedy today is so fast — it’s like: ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ — because they think people can’t pay enough attention,” she said.

Burnett further complained, “Today the suits say, ‘It’s got to be fast.’ So I think some of the writing isn’t good anymore. Now sitcoms sound like they’ve been written by teenage boys in a locker room.”

Although she believes modern female comics, such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, are capable performers, Burnett said she believes the good ol’ days of female comedy are probably long gone.

“I don’t think they could do what we did because we did a musical-comedy extravaganza every week with a 28-piece orchestra, 12 dancers and two guest stars a week, plus we had a studio audience,” she said. “We’d do it in one hour and 15 minutes, and we’d be out in time to go have dinner.”

She concluded: “Also, the cost: You couldn’t do what we did today because the cost would be astronomical.”

Read Burnett’s interview with THR in its entirety here.


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