There are many tributes that one can offer the late great Lucille Ball, but the greatest is perhaps the simplest: she made makes us laugh.
She may have geared her humor to audiences in the 1950s, but when we watch the reruns, even though our mores have changed, her antics still delight and amuse us. We still laugh at Lucy. As Marlo Thomas put it:
And we loved her for the most basic of reasons: We trusted her. We knew if we showed up on Monday nights, she’d pay us back in laughs.
Whether she was plucking chocolates off a conveyor belt and stuffing them in her mouth, or vigorously stomping in a vat of grapes, or lighting a putty nose on fire —while it was attached to her face — Lucy’s mission was always the same: to see the laugh all the way through. She was like an Olympic gymnast, who practices tirelessly, executes to perfection and always lands on her feet.
As Roger Rabbit put it, “A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it’s the only weapon we have.” Indeed. How many people found a dark day brightened by a half-hour of Lucy’s humor? (Or have he antics make a good day even better?) How many times have we turned to Lucy (or other funny folk) as a respite from the struggles of a human life?
And this woman pioneered a new means to bring laughter to millions of homes. She helped define the modern sit-com. In developing her unique brand of physical comedy, she may have drawn on vaudeville schtick, but she made it made it work for (what was then) a new medium. As she was influenced by the silent start Harold Lloyd, countless comedians (and comediennes) have been influenced by her.
The woman whom we remember for making us laugh had not set out to be a comedienne, but to be a Broadway star. Only in her late 30s, after suffering many setbacks did she realize that that was her purpose in life — to make people life — and she pursued it with passion, determination, imagination and effort. May we all such realizations and pursue them as did Lucille Ball.