The blonde and the brunette (Beth Behrs and Kat Dennings), from CBS’s Two Broke Girls, were on the Rachel Ray Show yesterday. Sitting in a booth that was part of a mock restaurant set, clad in stilettos and push-up bras, they were discussing their show with Rachel. Kat, in her cliche way of acting like a raunchy urban slut who has no boundaries, referred to her “crotch” more times than a team of football players in a locker room. The “dumb blonde” (Beth) giggled and occasionally denigrated herself, just like on the Two Broke Girls. Rachel tried (and failed) to make a connection between their show and real life waitresses who are broke and have to deal with rude customers. Of course real-life waitresses probably cannot afford designer jewelry or bleached out high-maintenance hair do’s, and certainly can’t schlep heavy trays around for an 8 hour shift, in 5″ heels.
They performed some kind of skit where all three “girls” had to get pie, dishes, water and silverware from a counter to individual tables, in record time. It was ridiculous and didn’t do much to further the cause of respecting waitresses or servers.
Then they began a discussion of the comedic timing of the cast and the fact that the show is filmed with a live audience. Beth referred to the audience as a “third character” and made more (sexual) jokes about playing off of the other members of the cast. Rachel finally made a comparison between Beth/Kat and Carol Burnett/Vickie Lawrence, in terms of the witty reparte and improvisational creativity bouncing back and forth between the women onstage.
What? Carol Burnett and Vickie Lawrence never referred to their “vaginas”, their “boobies”, or talked about their periods. They never resorted to giving extremely graphic descriptions of their sex lives, while referring to cocaine use and stealing from their jobs, to get a laugh. The writers of the Carol Burnett Show gave their actors unique and eccentric characters to play, who were involved in surprising and ironic situations. The actors, who could rival the early Second City, interpreted the scripts with magical stage presence and pure wackiness. Winning 22 Emmies during the 11 year run of the show, they were obviously doing something right. Many of their laughs came from slapstick comedy or outlandish characterizations of stereotypes like the crazy grandma or a Southern Belle who is codependent on her family.
Modern television has taken comedy to a new low. When we watch prime time TV with our 13 year old son, I have to keep my index finger hovered over the mute button. Even I am embarrassed by the sexual references to “rods”, “parking my car in your garage” and others that are not fit to print. Does our sound-byte-oriented, over-stimulated and unimpressed society need this much shock value to be entertained? Remember when humor was related to irony or that statement that was so universally true that it was funny – like Jerry Seinfeld’s observations on human nature that made you laugh at yourself? Perhaps I’ll just get Hulu and hide in the past, where it’s safe and Rated PG.