Today’s Guest: Vicki Lawrence, actress, comedienne, “The Carol Burnett Show,” “Mama’s Family”
Watch this exclusive Mr. Media interview with Vicki Lawrence by clicking on the video player above!
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience full of professional actors who couldn’t keep a straight face around Tim Conway even if he were reading a dictionary… in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
The reputation of “The Carol Burnett Show” has always been that of extraordinary sketch humor, enduring laughs, and a brilliant ensemble cast.
Yet somehow, for all my love of classic TV comedy, I missed out on the Burnett era altogether.
VICKI LAWRENCE podcast excerpt: “‘The Carol Burnett Show’ was well-written. It wasn’t in your face. You could watch it with the kids; what they got, they got. And what they didn’t, they could come back and watch next year.”
The show began when I was just seven years old and ended its run a decade later, as I graduated high school, but it was never on my radar. I religiously watched all the CBS sitcoms that preceded it on Saturday nights, usually camped out with my parents and/or grandparents. But when 10 p.m. came around, my mother watched it but I made myself scarce – at least until “Saturday Night Live” came on, 90 minutes later.
In watching “Carol Burnett’s Favorite Sketches,” a PBS special airing this Friday, June 3 at 9 p.m., it struck me how much funny I overlooked in my youth.
VICKI LAWRENCE podcast excerpt: “I played a lot of old ladies on the show. I was the second female lead. So while Carol Burnett was playing Shirley Temple, I was playing the mean old schoolmarm. And while she was playing the princess, I was the wicked old witch. When ‘Mama’ came along, it was another old lady to play. Carol was supposed to be Mama. The writers both hated their mothers. They wrote this beautiful part for Carol and she said, ‘I think that Eunice is the part that speaks to me.’ The writers were very upset. And then Carol said, ‘We have to do this Southern because this is nothing if not Tennessee Williams on acid.'”
When the show opens with Betty White as a sex-crazed interior decorator and is followed in the same whack-a-doodle sketch by Steve Martin parodying Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I realized what good stuff I missed.
So excuuuuuuuuuse me!
Joining me today to reminisce about those days and her major role in the success of “The Carol Burnett Show” and her own sitcom spinoff from it, “Mama’s Family,” is actress and comedienne Vicki Lawrence.
Key interview moments:
• 3:30 Actress Vicki Lawrence explains the enduring success of “The Carol Burnett Show” for multiple generations;
• 8:50 An explanation for why Lawrence, who was younger, always played Carol Burnett’s mother in sketches such as “The Family”;
• 16:20 Mama has a few words to offer about Donald Trump… and his hair.