–By Sean Derrick
Comedic legend and pioneer Carol Burnett returned to Saint Louis for the first time in nearly a decade for a stop on her Carol Burnett: An Evening of Laughter and Reflection tour at a sold out Stifel Theatre (Formerly Peabody Opera House) on Thursday.
Fans were treated to clips of her iconic Carol Burnett Show mixed in with questions from the audience, just like how her show started out each week.
The evening opened with a montage of her famous Tarzan yell prior to coming out to introduce how the nigh will go and to pay tribute to her dear friend and fellow comedian Harvey Korman with one of the most famous clips from the show: “The Dentist” skit.
Burnett then came on and the house lights went up as she opened the floor to questions. She didn’t have long to wait as the fans came prepared. Though what many fans, apparently, didn’t prepare for was actually speaking to Burnett. Several were overcome with emotion, explaining how watching Burnett helped them through bad times in their lives, inspiration, or just looking at her like an extended member of the family.
Seriously, one lady said she had 3 pictures on a wall: one of her meeting Carol Burnett, one of her family, and one of her meeting Sonny and Cher – and called it the family wall.
Burnett took the questions graciously and was quick with a quip or a story. Her wit was sharp as a tack and her memory sharper than that, like when one fan asked if Burnett had enjoyed what St. Louis had to offer and specifically mentioned toasted ravioli. Burnett, without missing a beat, wisecracked “Oh yeah. I eat it for breakfast.”
One lady came dressed as Burnett’s character in her “Went With The Wind” sketch (the one with the curtain rod, you know it. If you don’t google it, it’s hilarious) and mused about meeting her at her last performance here in 2010 and she wore the same outfit. Burnett immediately quipped back; “Oh really? Don’t you ever wear anything else?”
She recollected stories, completely brought up in fans questionings, about fellow co-stars Tim Conway and Vicki Lawrence, as well as her mentor Lucille Ball.
The videos took fans down memory lane in montages of Burnett’s favorite duets (with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Steve Martin, Ray Charles, and Lucille Ball, among others) and movie parodies.
It was an event that should not be missed, because Burnett is truly a living legend who helped pioneer women’s comedy in many groundbreaking ways. She referenced how her contract with CBS included a clause that gave her her own variety hour to host, something women were not looked upon to do at that time.
When asked about what young female comedians she likes now she rattled off the likes of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon. But when pressed to identify someone who is not well known yet, or whom she would like to mentor Burnett mentioned Rosemary Watson (Look her up on YouTube here). Excuse me while I go check her out.