Laughter and Reflection with Carol Burnett
A Conversation with Carol where the Audience Asks the Questions
Monday, April 18, 2011 at 8 pm
“Laughter and Reflection with Carol Burnett: A Conversation with Carol where the Audience Asks the Questions,” at the IU Auditorium, is this year’s IU Department of Theatre and Drama’s Ralph L. Collins Memorial Lecture.
Highlights From The Interview
Burnett has written two books of reflections. Her new book, This Time Together, focuses on her years on The Carol Burnett Show and the various TV, film and stage projects of which she’s been such a successful part. We asked her about the characters that she patented on the earlier Garry Moore Show with Durward Kirby.
“Well, there were so many it’s hard to single them out. It was quite an exciting time. One of our best writers, even though he was junior, was Neil Simon. After rehearsals, he’d stick around in his cubicle and work. It was there during the off-hours of The Garry Moore Show that he wrote Come Blow Your Horn. Gary was his first investor.”
“I learned a lot in those early days with Gary. He had a sense of ensemble. I recall that in one of the Monday script reading sessions, he had a joke. It was a good joke and he’d have delivered it well, but he said, ‘No, let Durward have that. He’d be funnier.’
“Later, when I had my own show, I remembered those lessons. I never thought of Harvey Korman or Vickie Lawrence or Tim Conway as what the business calls ‘second bananas.’ We really did work as an ensemble cast with the varied guests and I think that gave the show a lot of strength and variety.”
The State Of Comedy
“Some of it I like, and some of it I like to let alone. I really prefer comic actors — though I mean no disrespect for stand-up comics — but I prefer comic actors. Ed Wynn, an old dyed in the wool vaudevillian, was on Garry’s show once. He said, ‘a comic says funny things, and a comic actor says things funny.’”
“I’m working on a third book. It’s about me and my daughter. I’m about a hundred and forty pages into it and currently running into a little writer’s block. But, I know I’ll get past it. I’m a good typist and I really enjoy just being by myself and writing.”
As we wrapped up the conversation we couldn’t avoid using Carol’s own tag line: “It’s so nice we had this time together.”