Friday, May 22, 2020

The S&M Comedy Agony of Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball was a sadist. Maybe a masochist, I'm not sure.

Wait, wait, wait, hear me out before you start lobbing tomatoes at me. Sure, I know she's a national treasure and all, but I've done some extensive research into the matter and am a professional expert on the topic, possibly one of the foremost experts in the country with outstanding credentials to show for it.

For you see...*sniff*...I watch a lot of TV.

Best to start at the beginning. I grew up watching a lotta Lucy on TV. In fact, Lucy raised me as I suckled from the glass teat of an old black and white television. Reruns of I Love Lucy always drew me in and once started, I couldn't look away. It was like watching a train wreck.

Instead of laughing at Lucy's wacky antics, I cringed. I felt pity for her weekly plights of mishaps, her traumatic escapades. Who can forget the horrific conveyor belt tragedy at the chocolate factory, the episode where Lucy was hired to make chocolates and everything accelerated beyond her control. By the end of the show, when she released her trademark "WAHHHHHHH," I felt like crying with her. I just never enjoyed laughing at others' mishaps and embarrassments.
Honestly, I'd thought I was alone in this feeling, but when I met my wife, we shared similar reactions. Sometimes, comedy is unbearable. We call it the "Lucille Ball Factor."

Yet, most comedy is based on sadism, the pleasure of watching someone's wacky downfall. (Ho, those nutty, nutty {pun entirely unintentional} injury to the groin scenes, just can't get enough of 'em!) From the early days of Charlie Chaplin being tortured by modern machinery to the cringe-inducing embarrassment of watching the characters on, say, The Office, make asses of themselves, it's really hard to witness some times.

I suppose there's something to be said about "schadenfreude," the pleasure of watching someone else fail. I'm not beyond or above that sensation. For years, I enjoyed watching several monsters fall from grace during my horrible tour of duty on the front-lines of the corporate cog. But when the characters are empathetic, like poor, long-time suffering Lucille Ball, I draw the line in the sand. No more.

Someone told me the only way to get through President Trump's daily idiotics is to just regard them as comedy. Wise man. And if that's the case, I'm really looking forward to a huge heapin' helping of schadenfreude where he's concerned.
So, to sum up my long-winded treatise, yes, Lucy was a sadist. Why else subject the world to the film version of Mame? Probably more likely a masochist, though. Otherwise, why put up with Desi Arnaz's philandering ways?

Speaking of the dark side of comedy and all things corporate, my blackly comic horror opus, Corporate Wolf, features quite a bit of everything covered above. To the extreme. Don't take my word for it. It can be had HERE. Attendance is mandatory and you will be tested later.

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