Given that Lucille Ball is often ranked and considered the funniest comedienne in television history, and
is still to this day lauded as one of the greatest Sitcoms of all time, expect quite a few legendary examples on this page.
- "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" is one of TV comedy's all-time classic half-hours.
- In the first act, Lucy, with Fred's help, tries to persuade Ricky to cast her in the commercial for his television special by pretending to be on TV… inside their TV.
- Then there's the episode's timeless second act, Vitameatavegamin — the single funniest sketch in the history of television. So funny even the other actors can't contain their laughter. If you look closely you can see Desi and the actor playing the director, Ross Elliott, biting down on the insides their cheeks to avoid cracking smiles. Desi even went on record saying the inside of his cheeks were sore after shooting that scene.
- The seeds of mayhem are sown early on when technical assistant Joe notices that Vitameatavegamin is 23% alcohol. Lucy, who uses her maiden name to avoid arousing suspicion, is more concerned with the taste; the first few times she takes a spoonful after declaring "It's so tasty, too!", Lucille Ball's disgusted face is a masterclass in Facial Dialogue.
It's so tasty, too! [takes a spoonful - and immediately makes a face that practically screams "WHAT did I just drink!?" before finally swallowing and shuddering involuntarily, then taking a few seconds to get her breath again] It's... just like candy!
- Then Ricky enters to discuss the evening's performance with director Ross, not initially absorbing the presence of someone else...
Hiya, Ross. Ross:
Oh, hello, Ricky. Ricky:
Hiya, Lucy. Listen, I wanna see about that number- [finally notices Lucy and gives her a Disapproving Look] Lucy:
... Hi. Ricky:
And what, may I ask, are you doing here? Ross:
Well, she's gonna do the commercial! Ricky: [pointing to Lucy]
She's gonna do the commercial?? Ross:
What did you do to the girl that was supposed to be here? [Lucy edges away from Ricky and avoids eye contact with him]
Now Lucy, I told you you couldn't do the commercial. [Lucy doesn't answer]
Now what's the big idea? [Lucy still doesn't answer]
Lucy, what have you got to say for yourself? Lucy: [rapid-fire, a wide-eyed forced smile on her face]
Hello friends, I'm your Vitameatavegamin girl, are you tired, rundown, listless, do you poop out at parties- Ricky: [putting his hand on her arm]
Never mind, never mind, never mind!
- Ricky is persuaded to let "Miss McGillicuddy" do the commercial when Ross points out that it's too late to find a replacement, and she goes through a flawless rendition of the sales pitch... apart from a very loud Alcohol Hic a few seconds after she finishes.note Once Ricky leaves again, she attempts to re-start the pitch from when she takes a spoonful, but is struggling to concentrate and asks to start from the beginning. Things rapidly go downhill as Lucy's body starts absorbing the alcohol; it starts with the Spoonerism "bittle lottle", and although she corrects herself immediately, the alcohol visibly hits her hard seconds later, and her speech slows down considerably as she tries to avoid stumbling over the words, only to end by telling the audience to buy "a great big bottle of Mitameatamidgamin... remember that name! Mitavattameatymat!"
- Finally, Joe tells Ross the sound man wants to get a level check on Lucy's voice (during which conversation Lucy stares vacantly at Joe, unnerving him), and another take is prepared, this one on a timer. It takes two attempts to get Lucy going - and once she does get going, well...
Lucy: [leaning over the table]
Weeell, I'm your Vitaveatyvidgyvat girl. Are you tired, rundown, listless? Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular? [Beat]
Well, are you?? [picks up the bottle]
The answer to all your problems is in this li'l ol' bottle. Vitameatavegamin. [checks the label, surprised she got it right]
That's it. Vitametavegamin contains... vitamins, meat, megetables, and vinerals. [she grins, then lets off an Alcohol Hic]
So why don't you join the thousands of happy, peppy people, and get a great big bottle of, uh... Vitaveataveanymeenyminymoe. [tilts the bottle sideways, emptying the contents onto the studio floor, then rights it again]
I'll tell you what'cha have to do, you have to take a whole tablespoonful after every meal. [she picks up the spoon, but puts it under the body of the bottle instead of the neck as she pours. She tries again, but this time the spoon is over the bottle. Finally, she puts the spoon on the table and empties the bottle toward it, then sets the bottle down... before grinning, picking up the bottle, and chugging from it directly]
It's so tasty, too! [picks up the spoon, downs its contents, and licks the back, then swirls her finger in the spilled liquid and licks it off as well]
Just like candy. [picks up the bottle]
So everybody get a bottle of... [tries to remember the name, but can't]
- In the third act, Ricky goes out for his performance... but Lucy, who still hasn't sobered up, stumbles into the middle of it and tries to tunelessly sing along with Ricky (who gamely struggles through the rest of the number) before reciting the sales pitch as Ricky forcibly carries her backstage again.
- From "Lucy's Italian Movie," the classic Wine Vat scene, which is a venerable master class in both Physical Comedy and Facial expressions.
- From "Fred and Ethel Fight," Ricky is in top snarker form at the start, culminating in a legitimate spit-take in the background when Lucy refers to Ethel as a "cute young chick."
- Lucy and Ricky tying Fred and Ethel into the same coat until they make up. And then when they do make up.
Lucy: You know this is pretty sickening.
Ricky: I liked it better when they were mad!
- Ricky and Lucy going back and forth about their own last fight. Eventually Ricky pauses, glaring at Lucy.
Fred: [pointing at Ricky] It's your serve.
- Ricky checking Fred's grape soda to make sure it isn't spiked after Fred suggests burning down the apartment building.
- Possibly one of the single funniest moments on live-action television was from the very end of the show's run. In the show's final season, both couples had moved from their apartments in New York City to a farmhouse in Connecticut. This particular episode they decided to try to raise chickens. The chickens weren't maturing fast enough to suit Ricky, so Lucy and Ethel began buying eggs to plant into the chicken's nests. When Ricky came home early they hid the eggs by stuffing them into Lucy's blouse and Ethel's back pockets. Ricky then insisted Lucy practice a tango routine with him that the two of them needed to do later that week for Little Ricky's school. The end result was an egg-soaked Lucy and a live audience that laughed for over a minute and a half. It was considered a record holder for years, and may still be one. As a cherry on the sundae, Fred opens the door into Ethel's backside, crushing all the eggs in her back pockets.
Ricky: Ethel! Are you carrying eggs too?
Ethel: I was...
- King Kat Walsh's response to seeing Fred in a raccoon coat: "Dig that crazy dancing bear!"
- From "Lucy Wants New Furniture," Ricky says they can't afford the titular new furniture, and Lucy grabs a chair and a magazine, saying "I may have to live with that furniture, but I don't have to look at it!" before sitting down and angrily opening the magazine - and accidentally ripping it in half.
- From "The Moustache":
Ethel: My grandfather used to have a moustache — a great, big, long handlebar one — and Grandma got rid of it in the middle of the night.
Ethel: She tied it around the bedpost when he was asleep and then yelled "Fire."
- The ideas Ethel comes up with after Lucy accidentally cements a fake beard to her face to get rid of said beard involve ripping it off via weight and burning it off Lucy's face. Keep in mind Lucy is dressed in a suit at the time so as to appear like a Southern gentleman and not look bizarre.
- "Job Switching," often hailed as one of the single most funniest episodes in television history.
- The oft-parodied sequence of Lucy and Ethel working at the chocolate factory. They admitted they were paying homage to Modern Times.
- Before that, Lucy's attempt at chocolate dipping, in which she is able to pick up on the rhythm of the task, but fails completely in the execution.
- From that same episode, all of Fred and Ricky's attempts at being housewives for a day. Especially the cooking scene.
- The fight in the wine press.
- The Mirror Routine with Harpo Marx.
- Preceded by him chasing Ethel around the room and his look of utter shock at seeing Lucy dressed up as him hiding in the kitchen. He pinches his own face and hands for a few moments, trying to make sure that he's real.
- And after the Mirror Routine, Ricky and Fred enter the room - dressed as Groucho and Chico Marx. Ricky has some fantastic eyebrows.
- This exchange between Lucy and Ethel:
Lucy: It's what every wife dreams of getting from her husband.
Ethel: A divorce?
- For the record, Lucy meant a mink stole. Hell, the entire scene where she tried to get Ethel to guess that by miming it (since Ricky prohibited her from speaking about it) was pretty funny.
- The entire episode "Sales Resistance."
- The funniest moment is probably a tie between Lucy trying to sell the vacuum cleaner:
That's funny, I can't imagine why it doesn't work. Woman:
I can. The electricity's turned off. Lucy:
We didn't pay our bill. Lucy:
Why didn't you tell me? Woman: You didn't ask me
. [puts the money from Lucy's wager with her down the front of her dress] Lucy:
Oh, dear... I'm sorry I made such a mess on your floor. I don't know how you're gonna clean it up. Woman: I do! Lucy: Eeeeew...
- ... and Lucy coming home:
Lucy, where's your other shoe? Lucy:
Stuck in the door at 310 East 69th Street. I was kicked down stairs, bitten by a dog, and chased three blocks by a policeman who wanted to see my peddler's license. One more hour, they'd have reported the death of another salesman
- The closing show from "Ethel's Home Town". Not to mention that Ethel didn't notice anything until THE VERY END??
- In Lucy Goes to the Hospital, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel practice what they need to do when Lucy declares "The time has come!" The practice goes very smoothly of course. And then...
Lucy: Ricky, this is it.
- Lucy Changes Her Mind
- Ricky telling his son a story in Spanish with phrases of English dashed in.
- Ethel trying in vain to wake Fred up when they're overcrowded together on a train:
Ethel: Look, there goes Gina Lollobrigida!
Fred: WHERE WHERE WHERE?!
- The scene ends with Ethel telling Fred he can sleep standing up. After the transition, Fred is shown sleeping across the other three on the bench.
- From "Lucy and Superman":
- Lucy gets the original idea:
Lucy: [as Ricky is walking by, not really paying attention]
Honey, will you do me a favor and call Superman this afternoon? Ricky:
Yeah, sure. [he leaves] [Beat] Ricky: [walks back in] Superman?!
- And the ending:
Ricky: Lucy, I cannot believe it! In all of the 15 years we've been married you've never done anything like this!
Superman: You mean to tell me that you've been married to her for fifteen years?
Ricky: Yes, fifteen years!
Superman: And they call me Superman!
- Lucy and Ricky's shocked faces are the cherry on top of that sundae.
- Lucy inadvertently splicing a skit she and the Mertzes did, along with Ricky's home movies, into Ricky's audition reel for a gig. She basically performed YouTube Poop 50 years before YouTube.
- "Lucy is Envious"; specifically, the scene where Ricky and Fred (disguised as Martians) scare the bejeezus out of Lucy and Ethel. Once the Martians leave, Ethel shouts, "Call the police!" Lucy screams in response.
- The whole sequence where they pretend to be Martians and the ending was pretty funny too.
- The episode where they open a diner. Ricky and Lucy end up talking to and greeting the customers, while Fred and Ethel end up slaving away in the kitchen.
- Lucy responding to Ricky's attempt at Hash House Lingo in "The Diner": "Next time you want a hamburger without onions, ask for a hamburger without onions! Don't just stand there yelling, "Bring the bull in the ring and laugh in his face"!
- After a feud, the couples agree to split the diner IN HALF. Cue the sequence where a customer comes in and asks for a hamburger. The couples try to get him to buy from THEM a hamburger and Fred and Ethel end up going down to a one cent hamburger. Lucy then calls the customer over to her side, whispers something in his ear, gives him a dollar from the cash register, and the guy goes over to Fred and Ethel and asks "I'd like 100 hamburgers." And Fred and Ethel's response: "I'm sorry we're all out of hamburgers."
- The pie fight at the end. Especially where the said customer throws a pie in the face of the former owner of the diner after he hears that he cheated Lucy, Ricky, Ethel, and Fred out of their money.
- Lucy tries to prove herself as a "Marilyn Monroe type" to a Hollywood talent scout. When greeting Fred and Ethel, she enters wearing a blonde wig, a slinky dress, and a fake Beauty Mark. She also practices her Sexy Walk and seductive smile. Additionally, after Lucy asks Fred and Ethel to guess who she's supposed to be, Fred answers, "Humphrey Bogart in a wig!"
- Lucy and Ethel get into a fight around Ethel's birthday. As Lucy storms out, she comes back in and throws in this zinger.
Happy birthday, and I hope you live another 75 years!
- Fred's moment of glory at the end of the Passport Office episode.
- "The Golf Game": All the crazy golf rules that Ricky and Fred make up so that Lucy and Ethel will hate golf and quit. See the list here. To summarize it, it's like a 50's version of a ClickHole article.
- When Ricky goes on a long-winded rant in Spanish about Lucy and all it says as a translation at the bottom is "She's nuts."
- "Lucy Tells the Truth", all of it. In particular, the climax where Lucy gets in over her head by lying that she speaks Italian and inadvertently becomes the assistant to a knife thrower. Just before he throws the last knife at her, Lucy screams and confesses her lie to Ricky.
- "Ricky's Life Story": To discourage Lucy from wanting to be in show business, he rehearses a "Challenge" number with her. Ricky performs some incredibly simple movements, while Lucy quickly exhausts herself with really strenuous, fast-paced moves.
- "Lucy Hires an English Tutor": Ricky tries reading a children's story, but repeatedly messes up the pronunciations of certain words:
Ricky: Once upon a time in the woods live a peasant. He was a good man with a noble heart. He spent his time in the forest cutting down boogesNote from the trees. (...) Cutting wood all day made his hands strong and rowNote . (...) One day he cut wood so fast that by noon, his day's work was thruffNote . (...) It started to rain on the way home, and he got so wet that his nose became red and he developed a hacking cooNote ? Well, I know it can't be cow.
- The singing exercise that the tutor suggests the group performs as flowers in Ricky's show:
Ricky: Derry down pip pip...
Lucy: Dilly dilly day!
Ethel: Hey nonny nonny...
Fred: ...Rippity pippity ayyyy.
Fred: Derry down ding dong...
Ethel: Dilly dilly do!
Lucy: Hey nonny nonny...
Ricky: ...Rippity pippity poo.
- In "Tennessee Bound", the group gets lost and asks someone where they are. Turns out they're in Tennessee, leading to this:
Local: You got a real bad echo in that car!
- Then moments later, they learn the name of the town, Bent Fork:
Lucy: Bent Fork?!
Ethel: Bent Fork?!
Ricky: Bent Fork?!
Fred: Bent Fork?!
Local: There's that echo again!
- In the same episode, the Bent Fork sheriff warns Lucy that if she so much as says "boo", he's going to lock her up in jail for the night. Lucy bites her tongue and almost makes it out the door but can't help herself: "Boo." Cue the handcuffs.
- "Lucy Gets Ricky on the Radio": A joke that's lost on some modern audiences has the group of four confusing who is on their TV screen (due to bad TV reception):
Lucy: That little girl is Margaret O'Brien, isn't it? (Born 1937, would be 15 that year.)
Ricky: Look again. It's Shirley Temple. (Born 1928, would be 24 that year.)
Fred: Look again. It's Mary Pickford. (Born 1892, would be 60 that year.)
- Some moments in "Ricardos Visit Cuba" double as heartwarming and funny. In spite of her best efforts, Lucy has messed up in front of Ricky's family and is near tears.
Lucy: What would you do if the first time I met you, I said awful things, spilled stuff all over you, and acted like a first-class nincompoop, what would you do?
Ricky: [completely serious] Just what I did! Wait for my clothes to come back from the cleaners and then marry you!
- Later on, Lucy tries to get a box of cigars for Alberto, having sat on the last ones. Of course, Hilarity Ensues, and things only get worse when Alberto walks into the cigar shop. Lucy hides as one of the cigar rollers, and winds up accidentally rolling a cigar that's about two feet long. Then Ricky walks in.
- "Lucy Gets Chummy With the Neighbors": Ricky gets in a fight with Ralph Ramsey. Fred and Ethel come to visit from the city, and Ricky isn't in the house at the moment.
: It's too quiet in here.
I don't like it. (Ricky storms in the door shouting Spanish and looking disheveled) Ethel
: Oh, my goodness! If he looks like that, what must Lucy
look like? (she's fine)
- Moments later, this great dry line from Fred:
Fred: I thought people moved to the country for peace and quiet.
- When in Switzerland, the group gets stuck inside a cabin that's been sealed shut by an avalanche. Lucy, Ethel, and Fred start making confessions, trying to clear their consciences because they're convinced they're going to die.
Lucy: Ricky? Don't you have anything to confess?
Ricky: [who has been silent thus far] I'm no fool. We might be saved!
- "Return Home From Europe": On the plane ride home, Lucy trying to pass off a giant piece of cheese as a baby.
- When they're in Hollywood, Fred meets John Wayne, who has been warned by Ricky that Fred is going to see how strong his handshake is. The Duke plays along, and Fred thinks that he's got a stronger handshake than Wayne...until Ethel comes in, shakes Fred's hand, and sends him to his knees without visible effort.
- Then there's Wayne's disbelieving reaction when Fred comes in doing a very bad imitation of the Duke.
- When Lucy wants to go to lunch with Ricky and Richard Widmark, Ricky obviously says no after all the wacky hijinks that have happened around her. She eventually intimates she's just going to go to the same restaurant and maybe just drop by their table.
Ricky: And if I so much as see you there, I'm going to wrap you up in a brown paper bag and ship you back to New York! [goes to leave] And that's an ultimatum!
- Lucy is more surprised that he could pronounce the word ultimatum than by his threat.
- When they're in France, Lucy has been seeing Charles Boyer everywhere, and when she sees the actual one, Ricky sends her to go powder her nose before she talks to him so he can warn Charles. Charles is - understandably - shocked to find out that Lucy really did all those things that he believes are publicity stories.
Charles Boyer: In French, I think we have a word for her. Balle du vis.
Ricky: What's that mean?
- Later on, Ricky pretends to be jealous to keep Lucy away, planting a kiss on her that leaves her halfway into Post-Kiss Catatonia and going "Wow, who needs Boyer?" Lucy decides to enlist the help of "Maurice Dubois" - actually the real Charles Boyer - to prove to Ricky that she doesn't care about Boyer. She asks him if he can handle the romantic lead, and he replies that he's never tried that before.
Lucy: Well what acting experience do you have?
Charles: [straightfaced] Mostly Westerns.
- "Lucy Raises Tulips" has several, starting with Fred and Ricky fighting over who gets to use the Ramseys' power mower:
Ethel: You sure we should leave them alone? They may get to fighting over that toy.
Lucy: I'll send Little Ricky to keep an eye on them.
- Later, with Ricky gone, Lucy decides to finish mowing the lawn herself. She has no idea how to drive the power mower but says, "I know how to drive a car — how hard can it be?" At least one person in the audience remembers the events of "Lucy Learns To Drive" because she can clearly be heard saying "Uh-oh!" even over the laughter that ensues.
- It goes without saying that events prove her right, with Lucy accidentally ruining Betty Ramsey's tulip bed. She decides she can replace them with wax tulips, punching Ethel repeatedly on the shoulder in her excitement before they leave for the store.
Ethel: While we're there, can I get some linament for my shoulder?
- The episode ends in an excellent role reversal, where Ricky accidentally ruins Lucy's tulips and tries secretly replacing them with wax ones, leading to...
Ricky: Listen, honey, Betty didn't have anything to do with this — I can 'splain.
- "The Quiz Show": With Ricky cutting off her finances, Lucy tries to win a thousand dollars on a game show. To qualify, she has to don a rain slicker and sing "My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean" for the audience. The catch is that every time she says a word relating to water, host Freddie Fillmore (played by Frank Nelson) sprays her in the face with water. That's funny enough, but the gold is how he messes with her after she's done singing.
Freddie: Now, do you see the get the idea of our little game?
Lucy: Yes, I see.
Freddie: Sea! [sprays her]
Lucy: Listen, I've got a notion—!
Freddie: An ocean! [sprays her again] Oh, that was wonderful, Mrs. Ricardo. Yes, yes! How 'bout giving her a big hand?
[Lucy picks up the spray bottle to get him, but she accidentally blasts herself in the face]
- "L.A. at Last": Of course, the scene where Lucy, sporting a fake nose to disguise herself from William Holden (whom she had an embarrassing moment with in the Brown Derby restaurant earlier), accidentally sets the fake nose on fire when trying to light a cigarette. While the script had her removing the nose and dunking it in her coffe, Lucy ad-libbed, resulting in her extinguishing the fake nose in her coffee while it was still attached.
- Earlier, in the Brown Derby restaurant scene, Fred derides Ethel and Lucy for standing up and asking "Where?" every time a male celebrity is announced over the intercom, but when "Phone call for Ava Gardner" is said, Fred stands up and says, "Where?" When Ethel calls him on his hypocrisy:
Ethel: Fred, sit down. Remember? "She's just people, like you and me."
Fred: She might be people, but she's not like you and me!
- "The Kleptomaniac": Lucy secretly runs the annual bazaar after being forbidden by Ricky due to issues with her management previously. He finds money from the bazaar in her purse and sees her carting away Fred's cuckoo clock and comes to the conclusion that she's a kleptomaniac. Hoping to deter her, he brings in an expert psychiatrist, Dr. Robinson, to meet with her. Lucy, having caught on, goes along with it; she outright pretends to be a gangster— complete with tommy gun, gangster name and Ethel as her lackey— plants "stolen goods" around the room, makes up phony stories about them and her secret history of theft and even manages to snatch Dr. Robinson's watch. At the end of the interview, she says that she's done with stealing. When Dr. Robinson expresses doubt that she could give it up so easily, she explains that she hit her peak as a thief when she went to the circus earlier that day... and proceeds to lead a baby elephant out of the bedroom.
- "Ricky's Screen Test": The entire last act has many funny bits: The loud assistant director that rattles Lucy ("QUIET ON THE SET!" "ROLL 'EM!" "RICARDO SCREEN TEST, TAKE FOUR!"), Lucy constantly trying to face the camera to be "discovered" (she's supposed to be shot only from the back), the director getting increasingly fed up and finally snapping, putting the AD to shame ("All right, now this is it: Good, bad, or indifferent! ROLL 'EM!!! ROLL 'EM, I SAID!!!"), and Ricky eventually resorting to tying Lucy up on the bench.
- "Ricky Needs an Agent": When Lucy spills the beans that she pretended to be an agent at a movie studio but accidentally got Ricky released from his contract, Ricky can barely talk so Lucy gives him things to smash. After smashing numerous glass items on the carpet and leaving, Lucy starts cleaning up and checks underneath the couch. Cue Fred and Ethel walking in, getting the wrong idea:
Ethel: He killed her and tried to hide her body underneath the couch!
- Even legendary funny man Harpo Marx wasn't impervious to Lucy's overall charm as he noticably breaks while the two recreate the classic mirror scene from his film Duck Soup.
- Lucy having to battle the worlds heaviest head dress while shooting her big hollywood debut role. The poor director is nearly driven insane by her antics.
- Ethel performing a séance giving AT&T operators a run for their money.
Ethel: (dramatically robust) I shall now reach out to the spirits.
(Nasally and deadpan)
Ethel to Tilly, Ethel to Tilly! Come in Tilly! Over!
- One of Lucille Ball's personal favorites, Lucy performing as Camille, the snaggel toothed Queen of the Gypsies in "The Operetta."
Ricky: (singing) I am the good prince Lancelot
I love to sing and dance-a-lot!