September 21st, 2005
Lucille Ball: What's So Funny?
Lesson Overview


Lucille Ball was a great comic actress. After starring in more
than 60 movies and being known as the “Queen of the B-movie”,
she found her identity as a clown on the long running TV series
I Love Lucy. In this lesson plan, students study images of
women in movies and television, contrasting the ideal of physical
beauty with the risks an actress takes to be funny. They also learn
about physical comedy, discuss what makes clowning funny, and get
to try it themselves.

Grade Levels


Subject Areas

History, Drama


Students will:

  • learn about images of women in Hollywood cinema, in the 40s and
    50s and today
  • participate in a warm-up and comedy improv exercise


  • Video of episode(s) of I Love Lucy (or you can use video
    clips from the web — see Selected Websites, below.
  • Optional: A videotape of American Masters: Lucille Ball
  • VCR and monitor
  • Internet-connected computers in the classroom for student research.
    Alternatively, you can print materials from the web for handouts
    – see Selected Websites, below.
  • For the improv exercise, it will help to have a list of emotional
    states written up in advance. See the improv exercise for some ideas.

Selected Websites

Bookmark or print pictures of female actresses from
these sites. The goal is to contrast pictures of glamourous actresses
of the 30s and 40s and 50s with pictures of Lucille Ball, as a comic
actress. This will be part of a discussion activity.

Love Lucy still pictures

Love Lucy video clips

Love Lucy episode guide:
with stills and video clips

video clips

Internet movie database
(IMDB): search for Judy Garland, Lucille Ball and others to find
movie stills.

: click on Photos


Classics: Classic Actresses


Historical Understanding:

the context in which theatre, film, television, and electronic media
are performed today as well as in the past.

  • Understands the knowledge, skills, and discipline needed to pursue
    careers and avocational opportunities in theatre, film, television,
    and electronic media
  • Understands the emotional and social impact of dramatic performances
    in one’s own life, in the community, and in other cultures
  • Knows ways in which theatre reflects a culture
  • Knows how culture affects the content and production values of
    dramatic performances
  • Understands how social concepts such as cooperation, communication,
    collaboration, consensus, self-esteem, risk taking, sympathy, and
    empathy apply in theatre

the historical perspective

  • Knows how to view the past in terms of the norms and values of
    the time
  • Cathy Swanson

    In the episode where Lucy wants to be a ballerina, who were the actors??

    Cathy Swanson

Inside This Lesson


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