If you found this blog, you may be wondering about the name, “Taking a Tizzy.” I suppose that when I began this enterprise, I wracked my brain for a title that was uniquely “me.” For the last several years I’ve made it a habit when stepping out of an establishment to say, instead of “Take it easy,” “Take a tizzy.” It gets a smile from some people, and I guess it helps perpetuate the illusion that I possess a modicum of wit. So, by now, I’ve taken ownership of it.
Except it’s not mine. I ripped it off. And not from anywhere obscure, either. I took it from what may still be the most universally loved television show of all time: I Love Lucy.
I can’t help it. The show is ingrained in my DNA. By the time I was born, Lucille Ball had already presided over the conception and demise of three different situation comedies, and I’ve probably seen every episode of all of them. Both my parents adored her, and I have to admit, I do too – even though I’ll concede that the sitcom format had been refined since she and husband Desi Arnaz first shone light on that apartment set back in 1951. But Lucy’s comedy looked effortless. While she was pretty, she didn’t seem to possess any vanity, and actively sought out opportunities to look foolish.
But, Dimetre, you may be thinking. You’re forgetting to explain the title. What about “Taking a Tizzy”?
Sorry. If you allowed me to, I would discuss classic sitcoms all day.
I Love Lucy was not a “high concept” show. The set-up was simple: A married couple rents an apartment from another married couple. I suppose there was more to it; Arnaz’s character, Ricky, was a bandleader who had a regular gig at a downtown club. And he was Cuban, which made Lucy and Ricky an inter-racial couple, which may have been revolutionary in the 1950s. My understanding is that CBS didn’t want Arnaz to play her husband, but Ball insisted. After all, they were husband and wife in real life, and this was her way of trying to keep their tumultuous marriage together. Also of note, this was before Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba, so Cubans on TV weren’t as taboo as they would become just a few years later.
The title, Dimetre. The title, you remind me, somewhat testily.
Right. My brain is a repository of useless ephemera. There will likely be spillage into my postings now and again.
So, Ricky Ricardo was Cuban, and his wife, Lucy, was born and bred in Jamestown, New York, just like Ball herself. Much of the show’s humour came from Lucy’s hare-brained schemes, many of them aimed at slipping her into Ricky’s nightclub act against his forbiddance. When Ricky would inevitably catch wind of her plans, he would have a fit. This is when the show would take full advantage of Arnaz’s Latin roots. He would let loose a long string of Spanish epithets, and then, after settling down, bicker with her in his accented English. Lucy and the writers would always shatter the tension by poking fun at his accent. One of my favourite examples came when Ricky told Lucy to “Take it easy….”
Still, I will continue to claim ownership of this blog’s title, but in the interest of transparency and honouring those who came before, allow me to acknowledge the greatness of not only Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, but I Love Lucy writers Jess Oppenheimer, Madelyn Pugh and Bob Carroll Jr.
Until next time, take a tizzy.