Award-winning actress, comedian and author Carol Burnett could be on her way back to television, as she’s filming a pilot for Household Name, a comedy produced by Amy Poehler that stars Burnett as a former movie star forced to share her mansion with a young family. But first, she’ll entertain a live audience when she stops by the Boch Wang Theatre on April 8 for An Evening of Laughter and Reflection Where the Audience Asks Questions. She gave us a backstage pass.
What’s the format of your show? All of it is improvised by the audience. I don’t have any pre-planned questions at all. … I open the show with clips of some of my favorite questions and answers that we did on my show, my television show, so the audience…knows what to expect and, you know, it puts them in the mood.
What do you like best about leaving space for that spontaneity? Well, it keeps the old gray matter ticking. I have to really be on my toes. I can’t be thinking about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. I have to be in the present, and hopefully I’ll give an intelligent and sometimes funny—I hope—answer.
What’s one of your favorite audience Q&A moments you’ve experienced? There was a woman who was in the audience and dressed kind of like Bea Arthur in Maude. She raised her hand and she wanted to come up and sing. We have our live orchestra and everything, so I said, “OK, come on up.” … She was fearless, absolutely fearless. She was so funny. I said, “What do you want to sing?” Without missing a beat, she pointed to the orchestra and said, “ ‘You Made Me Love You’ in the key of G.” [Laughs.] She was just wonderful and so that was one of my favorites. I joined her with the latter part of the song and everything. We had a good time.
You’ve won so many awards throughout your career—is there one that stands out for you? Oh gosh, it’s hard to say without sounding like I’m bragging or something. But I think the one that I hold separately than everything else was the first one I got. When I was a freshman at UCLA, I got the Most Promising Newcomer in the theater arts department. I have it in my office here at home.
What do you hope the audience takes away from your time together when you’re in town? I just hope they’ll have a good, fun 90 minutes. I never know what’s going to happen, but I just hope it’s an audience that comes armed with some fun questions.
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