• July 19, 2024

How syndication saved Vicki Lawrence and Mama’s Family

Timing is one of the most important aspects of being a comedian. Without timing, the joke falls flat.

Vicki Lawrence was a comedian who knew a thing or two about the feeling of a poorly timed product when NBC originally premiered Mama’s Family in 1983.

Inspired by the popular sketch on The Carol Burnett Show called “The Family,” Lawrence’s situational comedy debuted at the same time network executives were saying the sitcom was dead, rural humor no longer worked and elders didn’t belong on TV.

Mama’s Family was premiering at a time when the series’ humor, characters, and premise were being torn apart by critics and network execs.

According to a 1987 interview with The Akron Beacon JournalMama’s Family went on-air because “a chairman at NBC wanted it to.”

“He put us on air without a pilot,” Lawrence said. “I think a lot of people at NBC resented that.”

Mama’s Family held on for a little over a year on NBC, but the series was canceled soon after. However, not too long after its cancellation, The Golden Girls (1985) proved that leading stars over 40 years old can be popular.

“Our timing was totally off,” Lawrence said. “I don’t think we were given a fair shot. The networks are being run by kids who were business majors. They don’t know anything about comedy. They’re telling us what’s funny and not one has ever been on stage. We’re losing the show business and getting left with just business.”

Not one for self-pity, Lawrence took her series and pursued the syndication route. About three months into the second season of renewed life, Mama’s Family became the top-rated syndicated show in the country.

“It’s much more fun to do this in syndication because there are no middlemen,” Lawrence said. “They send over the money and say ‘Do your thing.’ The networks do play games. Boy, do they play games, but you don’t get the respect as a syndicated show.”

Syndication saved Mama’s Family, and Lawrence was thankful.

“I think Mama has proved so durable because everybody says they know someone exactly like her,” Lawrence said. “It’s so hard to find a steady job in this town that I’m grateful if I’ve become identified with this one character.”

Trả lời

Email của bạn sẽ không được hiển thị công khai. Các trường bắt buộc được đánh dấu *