Game Night Goes Hysterically Wrong on Carol Burnett’s ‘The Family’
"The Carol Burnett Show's" vignettes of "The Family" perfectly captured the laughable nature of interactions with our loved ones.
There’s a reason Carol Burnett has a comedy award named after her. In what is one of the best recurring skits from her treasured variety program, “The Carol Burnett Show,” vignettes of “The Family” perfectly captured the laughable nature of dissension that often comes from interacting with the loved ones we’ve dealt with for a lifetime.
The “Togetherness” Of Family Game Night
In the skit “Sorry!” Carol Burnett’s character, Eunice, explains that she set up the board game in hopes that after a dinner of a “teensy bit dry pot roast” she, husband Ed, and Mama could play for a little after dinner entertainment. As expected, hilarity — and on point drama — ensues.
By the end, all blow ups are resolved when Eunice rolls double sixes and all is right with the world and The Family.
“The Carol Burnett Show” Aired From 1967 to 1978
The recurring skit was so popular it was spun off into its own show. The show starred Vicki Lawrence’s character “Mama” and aired from 1983 until 1990.
In an interview, Burnett explained how The Family sketch came to be.
“When I read the script, it reminded me of my relatives from Texas and Arkansas,” she said.
Which gave birth to the affected southern accents being used in the skit. The accents didn’t come without controversy, however, as the writers worried it would be offensive to some viewers.
Controversial First Run
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Actress Vicki Lawrence recalled how controversial the first run of the skit was, to the point where the writers angrily walked out after seeing it performed.
“Two of the writers on our show, they both came from dysfunctional families, [and] they wrote this beautiful homage to their crazy families and intended for Carol to be Mama,” Lawrence explained. “When she saw the final draft of the sketch, she said, ‘I want to be Eunice’ — very upsetting to the writers.
Then she said, ‘I think Vicki would be great as Mama’ — doubly upsetting to the writers. Then we got to the rehearsal hall and she said, ‘You guys, I think we need to do it Southern.’ Well, the first time the writers saw us do it, they got up and walked out. … They said, ‘You’ve ruined it.’”
But the audience loved it and “The Family” became one of the most enduring, popular, and recognizable features of “The Carol Burnett Show.”