The Vitameatavegamin episode of I Love Lucy may just be one of its most famous. The hilarious episode ranked #2 on TV Guide’s “100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time” list in 1997.
The episode, actually titled Lucy Does a TV Commercial, follows Lucy trying to act in a commercial for a Vitameatavegamin. The problem is, she doesn’t realize that the tonic contains 23% alcohol, and her attempts to perform quickly become hindered.
Lucille Ball’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, recently shared some behind the scenes details about the hit I Love Lucy episode.
“The writers thought it out in advance,” Arnaz told WTOP news. “They wrote out the routine brilliantly, she memorized it flawlessly, and they did it in one take in front of an audience, no retakes. To watch her go from 0 to 100, slowly, meticulously, and believably — that’s where the real art comes in. You never see her trying to be funny. You see her reacting to exactly what just happened. … We believe the situation because it was so brilliantly constructed.”
Lucille Ball often stood out that way in her comedy. Her comedy didn’t work because she was trying to be funny. Her comedy worked because she acted out funny scenes in a genuine way. Other comics took note as well.
The Andy Griffith Show actor Howard Morris once said in a Television Academy interview that Lucille Ball’s comedy was “Raucous. With full-felt—from the pit of your stomach to the top of your head. Funny lady who knew where the fun was and where the jokes were.”
Lucille Ball Found Comedic Acting More Challenging Despite Success on ‘I Love Lucy’
Many think that comedy like I Love Lucy would be a walk in the park, while dramatic acting that requires intensity and tears would be the most difficult. But there’s a saying in the world of acting: a lot of comedians can do drama, but not a lot of dramatic actors can do comedy. Lucille Ball felt the same way.
“It’s much harder to do comedy,” the I Love Lucy star told a crowd at a Q&A session at UCLA in 1978. “I find it much more of a challenge. I think it’s sort of like a vacation to do dramatic roles.” While Ball did perform in a couple of dramatic roles during her time, she almost strictly stuck to comedy.
Lucille Ball is Responsible For A Surprising Franchise
Lucille Ball wasn’t just an actress/comedian on I Love Lucy. She also became the first woman to own her own production company, Desilu Productions. During this time, a zany sci-fi pilot hit her desk, and she insisted that they air the show despite serious protests from her board. The board found the show too strange and expensive.
That show? Star Trek. Shockingly, Lucille Ball had a massive role to play in the early success of the show, which now has multiple spinoff and blockbuster films. Apparently, she didn’t just have an eye for comedy but had an eye for business as well.
From the Vitameatavegamin routine to owning her own company, the I Love Lucy star took the entertainment industry by storm no matter what she was doing. It’s no wonder her work remains hilarious to this day.