Who knew Carol Burnett was still such a rock star? The adoring fans who gobbled up tickets fast to the legendary TV comic’s sold-out appearance Friday at the State Theatre came bearing gifts and even wearing Irish green Scarlett O’Hara dresses (with curtain rods, no less!). They had a whole lot of stories to share with Burnett, too, many of which involved some kind of ailment or sad story that her classic TV show helped them or their late parents bear. In fact, at times it felt like Friday’s interactive discussion – modeled after the opening Q&A montages of “The Carol Burnett Show” (CBS, 1967-1978) – was more about the fans than it was about the still-redheaded and resplendent-looking comic, who turned 80 last month.
When she wasn’t directly responding to the audience, Burnett made the show more about all the people she worked with in her storied career. She shared stories about her castmates from her series, like the time Vicki Lawrence called a jabbering Tim Conway a “little a-hole” in a famous blooper. Or when Conway came out of a bathroom at his wife’s bridge club party with Q-tips glued to his face (“They got divorced shortly after that,” Burnett deadpanned). Asked for a behind-the-scene story from rehearsals, she recounted one incident when the notoriously moody Harvey Korman threatened to quit the show. Burnett told him he would be welcomed back Monday morning if he came in skipping and whistling (he did).
She also told stories about all her guest stars, including Lucille Ball (who died on Burnett’s birthday in 1989, but somehow managed to still send flowers and a card) and Jimmy Stewart (who took a liking to Burnett after she bufoonishly stepped in a bucket of whitewash paint on a movie set upon meeting him for the first time). Each story was complemented with accompanying clips from the show, including the “Gone With the Wind” skit that prompted two theatergoers to come wearing the full curtain get-up – a gimmick she credited to her famed costume designer Bob Mackie.
While the average age of the crowd would've made an AARP sales executive salivate, there were a few equally adulating young kids in the audience – most of whom probably know her from her role as the villainess Miss Hannigan in 1982’s big-screen adaptation of “Annie.” She relayed another story about having to reshoot one scene in “Annie” a few months after filming wrapped – and a month after she had a little cosmetic surgery. “Um, I have to tell you, I have a chin now,” she recounted telling the studio rep when they called.
She also laughed at how she knows whenever she’s recognized from that particular movie. “Every once in a while I’ll see a little girl stop in the aisle at the store and go, ‘Huh!?’” she said in mock terror. They must be the only people she regularly encounters not thrilled to see her.