Ask Carol Burnett

Burnett on the Garry Moore Show
Burnett on the Garry Moore Show

Renowned for her sparkly, good-natured ad-lib ability, entertainer Carol Burnett graciously carved out a new role for women in film and television — one in which they could be funny and smart. Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Kirsten Wiig and many others stand on Burnett’s shoulders. Now you can see this laugh-riot giant in real life, as the kids say these days, at the Hult May 7.

Burnett rocketed into audiences’ hearts as the beloved Princess Winnifred in the 1959 original Broadway production of Once Upon a Mattress. Garnering Burnett a Tony award nomination, the show ran for an extraordinary 460 performances, thanks largely to its star.

After moving to L.A., Burnett cut her teeth in television on The Garry Moore Show, where she strutted her stuff in comedy sketches, songs, monologues and interactions with the studio audience.

In 1967, Burnett developed her eponymous television show, which won 25 Emmy awards and aired weekly for 11 years, finding a home in syndication long after that. Who can forget Burnett as Eunice, Mrs. Wiggins or Nora Desmond? Or as Scarlett O’Hara, in her Bob Mackie-made gown that was, quite literally, curtains?

On film, Burnett is probably best known as the cruel-but-hilarious Miss Hannigan in 1982’s Annie, but she’s made hundreds of film and television appearances, most recently in Glee and The Secret World of Arrietty.

Despite her fame, the 81-year-old Burnett just seems so approachable. Perhaps because throughout The Carol Burnett Show, every episode began with Burnett answering unscripted questions from the audience like this one:

Young woman: “Have you ever taken acting lessons?”

Carol: “Yes, I have.”

Young woman: “Do you think it did any good?”

Have you always wanted to know why she tugs her left ear? Ask her yourself — Eugene audiences are encouraged to come with questions.

Laughter and Reflection with Carol Burnett hits Eugene 7:30 to 9 pm Wednesday, May 7, at the Hult; $45-$110.