Carol Burnett ready to chat with fans at Rialto show
By Randall G. Mielke For Sun-Times Media April 26, 2012 10:18AM
Carol Burnett will be at the Rialto Square Theatre May 8 and 9. | File Photo
Laughter & Reflection with Carol Burnett
♦ May 8-9
♦ Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago St., Joliet
♦ Tickets, $39.50-$125
♦ (815) 726-6600
Updated: May 1, 2012 10:32AM
If there is one thing that actress and comedienne Carol Burnett can probably do better than anyone else it’s ad-lib in front of a live audience.
She did just that for 11 seasons when “The Carol Burnett Show” aired on CBS TV from 1967 to 1978. Burnett opened most of the shows with an impromptu question and answer session with the audience during which she demonstrated her quick wit and personable demeanor.
Now in “Laughter & Reflection with Carol Burnett,” the legendary performer will field questions from audience members.
“The entire show is a question and answer session,” said Burnett of the one-woman show. “I am not really a stand-up comedy performer. This show is the same thing I did when we opened the TV show. The audience is my partner. There is nothing pre-screened. There is nothing planned. We open the show with some film clips of Q and A’s from the TV show. Throughout the show we will introduce other film clips. It is very much like working without a net.”
“Laughter & Reflection with Carol Burnett” will be presented at the Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet on May 8 and 9.
“The Carol Burnett Show” was an hour-long TV variety show that featured an ensemble cast that included Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, Vicki Lawrence and Tim Conway (who was a guest player until the 9th season). The show was famous for its parodies of films, television shows and commercials, and its musical numbers. But the popular and critically-acclaimed show almost did not happen.
CBS had a 10-year contract with Burnett which required her to perform in specials and guest appearances for the first five years. The contract also stipulated that she either create a show for herself or be placed in one that CBS chose for her.
“Part of the contract was that within the first five years if I wanted to do a one-hour variety show, they would have to put it on the air,” Burnett said. “So, at the end of the fifth year I called Mike Dann, who was the head of CBS at the time, and I said, ‘I want to push that button.’ They had kind of forgotten about it.
“They thought that a variety show was a man’s game, for people like Dean Martin and Jackie Gleason. But variety is what I wanted to do, with music and guest stars. Because of my contract, they had to put it on.”
The show ran for 11 seasons and garnered more than 20 Emmy Awards.
“I ended it at 11 years,” Burnett said. “Mostly because I missed Harvey (Korman). He left the show after the 10th year. CBS wanted me back for a 12th season, but I felt we had done all we could do.”
In addition to her work in television, Burnett originated the role of Princess Winnifred in “Once Upon a Mattress” on Broadway, and starred on Broadway in “Moon Over Buffalo,” “Fade Out/Fade In” and “Putting It Together.” She has appeared in numerous films and, in recent years, Burnett has been seen on television in “Glee” and “Law and Order: SVU.” Burnett also has written two books, “This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection” and her autobiography, “One More Time.”
Despite Burnett’s long and illustrious career, she does not really consider herself a living legend.
“I’m living, so half of that is true,” she said with a laugh. “I guess if you are still in the public eye after about 150 years you are a legend.”