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Lucille Ball at 100: ‘I Love Lucy’ still a shining example of why a live audience can work

lucille-ball-i-love-lucy.pngWith so many multi-camera sitcoms taped in front of live studio audiences heading to TV this fall — “Whitney,” “2 Broke Girls” and “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” among them — the shrinking genre faces one of its biggest tests in years.

And while the new series’ stars promise a spontaneity and and comedic dynamic you don’t get from successful single-camera laughers like “Modern Family,” “The Office” and “30 Rock,” recent critical and audience receptions have shown that they are probably a dying breed.

Though maybe, with the right combo of stars and treatment, it could work again. Aug. 6 marks what would have been Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday, and over the course of five series, the legendary comedian proved time and time again that there is finesse to interacting with a live audience.

There are few better examples of the charm of a live-taped sitcom than the original 9-season run of “I Love Lucy” (“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Cosby Show” also come to mind). Ball and co-star Desi Arnaz‘s ability to play to the audience, compounded with the brilliant editing choice of airing goofs and bloopers, gave “Lucy” a humor that would have never translated to the umpteen documentary-style comedies that dominate network TV today.  

So in honor of her centennial — and in hopes that we might some day get a live comedy even approaches her particular brand of magic — here are two perfect examples of live TV at its finest: Arnaz fudging his lines and the egg-dance that prompted one of the most approving audience reactions in TV history…

Photo/Video credit: Desilu Productions

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