I’m glad we had our time together, Carol Burnett
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
A little more than a year and a half ago, I was returning from a trip to a Las Vegas, a surprise for my parents, when I heard an interview with Carol Burnett that changed my life.
I imagine Carol has changed many lives over the years.
She was on NPR discussing her new book at the time, “This Time Together,” which details her life in Hollywood and, of course, “The Carol Burnett Show.”
Her comedic namesake ran for 11 years, seemingly impossible in today’s TV world. The show ended in 1978, when I was 6, but I remember watching it and wanting to be Carol Burnett. I loved that she made people laugh. I also loved her supporting cast – Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman and Tim Conway. Not only could they crack people up, but they laughed at themselves when they did skits. One of my mottos in life is if you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at?
Trust me, I laugh at myself all the time.
In the NPR interview, Carol spoke of her big breaks and Hollywood friendships, including meeting Lucille Ball and continuing that relationship through those magical years of TV. That day, while listening to Carol, I made a decision. I would make the “The April Clark Show.”
For once, I was actually being serious.
My vision was to invite funny friends for a late night variety show modeled after Johnny Carson’s. I hoped my experience interviewing people would work well as I sat at a desk speaking candidly with guests. I saw a monologue, house band, skits and a comic doing a set. I envisioned the audience having a good time.
Someday I would have my own show.
Obviously I don’t live in LA or New York City. I also don’t have an agent. I would need to make this happen in the small valley where I live. The Carbondale arts scene is supportive of new ideas and endeavors so I pitched it there. The concept was received with interest, but I didn’t have the financial backing the venue required. I was discouraged, but kept the idea in my head.
Somehow I would have my own show.
A year passed and that still hadn’t happened. I was working full-time and maybe in my mind I had let it go as a pipe dream. Then a friend who happened to work at a venue that might back the endeavor suggested I keep at it. I made the pitch, and before I could pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, there was a date for “The April Clark Show.”
Then the real work began.
Taking an idea from concept to reality can be intimidating. There’s the fear of an epic fail. I was pretty much terrified. Did I have the experience to produce my own show? A friend sat with me one night on a park bench and made sure I didn’t change my mind. She told me I could do it.
I knew she was right.
I turned to some of the most talented and funny people I know. I would have the best house band ever, an all-female rock quintet made up of Shanti, Meagan, Marilyn, Nikki and Pam. I called in Kat and Ananda, two of my close burlesque sisters, for hilarious characters with witty Southern charm. I had to have Mark Thomas as my Ed McMahon. Mark is one of the first friends I ever made as a comic. His talent has no end, and I knew he could help me make it happen.
Did he ever.
“The April Clark Show” had its world premiere at PAC3 Saturday night. The house was full with many people having a great time. My friend Ben was the featured stand-up comic. Mr. Carbondale showed me the infamous paddle costume from KDNK’s man pageant.
Yes, there is such a thing as a man pageant.
I was laughing throughout the show. Not at myself, but all the great people who made it happen. The show may not be on TV, unless a big break is in store. It did start with a dream. And Carol said dreams do come true.
I may not be a Hollywood comedian but I can say I’ve had my own show, like Carol or Lucy.
If that’s not a life-changer, I don’t know what is.
“April in Glenwood” appears every Wednesday. April E. Clark sees a beach in Mexico in her near future. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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