'Everybody is a Comedian'
Lucille Ball Starring in Northridge Classroom
By Richard Holguin Times Staff Writer
Light sparkled in her red hair as she walked down the aisle toward the stage. A one-liner sprang from her lips and the crowd erupted in laughter.
It was Lucille Ball in -- despite the laughter -- an unfamiliar role: professor, not comedienne. The stage was different, too, a large lecture hall at California State University, Northridge.
After more than four decades of success in television, film and theater, including the highly successful "I Love Lucy" series, the 68-year-old entertainer was in a classroom teaching "Television and Film Aesthetics."
After a recent class, Miss Ball was asked to explain her move from the studio to the classroom.
"I like to think of myself as caring, trying to give something back to kids from an industry that has been very good to me," she said.
She was hired by the university as an assistant professor and donates her wages to charity, a university spokeswoman said.
The three-unit class, offered by the Radio, TV and Film Department, includes showing and analyzing film and television programs.
She lectures the students, but also listens to their attempts at jokes. "Everybody is a comedian here tonight. I love it. At least you're relaxed," she said.
"Lucy," as her pupils affectionately call her, said she does not try to teach academics, but rather the "practical get-you-through-the-day" basics of survival in the TV and film industries.
"They (students) are thrown out with what they think are all the ingredients, but they sometimes have to start from scratch. I emphasize self-preservation," she said.
She describes her lectures as a survival kit.
"I try to teach them the art of taking care of themselves in every way so someone else doesn't have to." She emphasizes a positive attitude, self-improvement and assertiveness.
"All they hear about is rejection. I try not to talk about rejection. I teach how to do the best for you -- don't be a patsy, a pushover -- and to take that step ahead every day."
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