Montgomery, AL – Emmy Award-winning comedienne Vicki Lawrence brought the house down Thursday night at Troy University’s Davis Theatre for the Performing Arts in Montgomery with her hilarious “Two-Woman” show.
For the first forty minutes, Lawrence regaled the audience with stories about her life, beginning with her show business start on The Carol Burnett Show in 1967.
While a senior in high school, Lawrence sent Carol Burnett a fan letter, including a photo and a newspaper article mentioning how she resembled a young Burnett, and invited her to the local fire department’s “Miss Fireball” contest where she would be performing.
Much to her surprise and amazement, Burnett telephoned her one day after school. Lawrence could not believe that her idol was on the other end of the line.
“Nothing would come out of my mouth,” Lawrence said. “So, I handed the phone to my mom, but Carol said she wanted to talk to me … and she said I didn’t have to say anything, just listen.”
“Carol said she wanted to come see this contest I was going to be in. She said that she was very pregnant so she wanted to sneak in the back and not be seen.”
But, Lawrence spilled the beans to the person in charge of the contest, pleading for him not to tell anyone that Carol Burnett would be sitting way in the back of the audience that night.
Naturally, the contest head announced to everyone that they had a special guest in the audience, but Burnett was not mad. She simply chose Lawrence to play her little sister on her show and the rest, as they say, is television history.
A year into The Carol Burnett Show, Lawrence met and fell in love with the CBS make-up man, Al Shultz. When asked to share her favorite beauty tip, Lawrence has often quipped, “Sleep with your make-up man!” And has many times remarked that her ex-football player spouse has a great “tight end.”
During Thursday night’s show, Lawrence also sang her #1 hit, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” a song written by her first husband Bobby Russell and released in 1972.
The second half of the performance was devoted to the entertainer’s alter ego, Thelma Harper, commonly known as “Mama,” the irascible matriarch of the Harper family, who appeared after the intermission dressed in saggy pantyhose and a print dress, carrying her signature white pocketbook.
Mama spoke about politics and had an idea how President Obama could police the country’s borders.
“For starters, I’d put senior citizen housing all along the American side,” she said. “Nobody sees more than an old lady peeking through her window blinds.”
Mama decided that FEMA stands for “Federal Expenses Mismanaged Again,” and declared that the President should name her “The Secretary to Old People.”
The sharp-tongued blue-haired buxom widow answered some “audience” questions saying that people just wanted to know her ideas because she was an old woman, having lived for a long time on the earth.
One such “query” asked if she thought a recording of barking dogs would scare away burglars.
“You know, I’ve found something much more effective that that,” Mama answered. “It’s called, ‘William Shatner Sings.’”
Mama was such a favorite on The Carol Burnett Show that NBC created a sitcom called Mama’s Family and Burnett reprised the Eunice Higgins (Mama’s daughter) character for the sitcom from time to time.
Lawrence appeared for photographs and autographs at an after-show meet ‘n greet for invited guests that was held at Nobles on Montgomery Street.
When the multi-talented performer left Montgomery, she headed to Orange Park, Florida, and will appear in Texas and Nevada in the upcoming weeks.
Article by Melissa Parker
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