Lily Tomlin, gracious and down-to-earth, takes her comedy back to Minnesota
ST. PAUL It's not often you get to talk to a legendary performer who is as gracious and down-to-earth as Lily Tomlin. Even a dropped call and fuzzy reception during a recent phone chat with her from Los Angeles didn't spoil the mood. Tomlin, who ...
It's not often you get to talk to a legendary performer who is as gracious and down-to-earth as Lily Tomlin.
Even a dropped call and fuzzy reception during a recent phone chat with her from Los Angeles didn't spoil the mood.
Tomlin, who first made a name for herself as one of the stars on the popular sketch comedy show "Laugh-In" and went on to have a successful stage and movie career including a role in Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion," filmed in St. Paul, talked about everything from being a workaholic to her long-time partner, Jane Wagner, in anticipation of her stop at the State Theatre in Minneapolis on Sunday.
For her show she'll be conversing with the audience, doing some stand-up comedy and pulling out plenty of her well-known characters including snorting telephone operator Ernestine and bratty little Edith Ann.
And even with her busy schedule - in the past few years she's been on "Damages" and "Desperate Housewives," recently popped up as a guest judge on "RuPaul's Drag Race" and plays Lisa Kudrow's mom in the upcoming Showtime series "Web Therapy" - the 71-year-old still does between 30 to 50 dates on the road each year.
Here are five things you might not know about the comedic genius.
A typical night with Tomlin is all about work.
"I'm constantly looking at stuff, organizing notes I've made where you think something is funny or a good line or a good idea. I'm constantly doing that or looking at old video and trying to come up with new material.
"Going out to dinner is a necessity because it's like a little vacation in the middle of the evening. I like to watch movies. I don't go do a lot of dancing or things like that, even though I enjoy it.
"I think people like me work a lot. Work is like their Zen. Especially if you're being creative and you can come up with stuff. It's such a high when you do."
It's not so easy to slow down, but the thought does cross her mind.
"It's such a challenging thing to slow down. Every day I'm always forever calling friends and I'm forever saying to my partner, Jane, maybe we should move. Maybe we should go to another slower kind of town where we're not so much in the business. When you're here and you've been here for so long and you have so many friends in the industry, even if you're not working, they're going to find something for you to do."
She's rooting for David O. Russell for best director at the Academy Awards.
(Her nasty run-in with Russell when the two were making "I Heart Huckabees" created quite a buzz when it was leaked on YouTube a few years ago.)
"I was glad to see my old friend David O. Russell was nominated for 'The Fighter.' David's had some bad rep stuff to deal with because he's volatile. (Tomlin laughs.) But he's so brilliantly talented and he's really a good guy. We're definitely friends. I have great affection for him and great admiration for his talent in spite of how we behaved -- and we behaved very badly, both of us.
"'The Fighter' is so good, it's hard not to want friends to win Oscars if they've done good work."
When she attended the Oscars in the mid-'70s (she was nominated for her role in Robert Altman's "Nashville") she dressed to impress.
"I went with Altman and that gang and I wanted to amuse Altman so I wore a big fox fur that I got at the thrift shop. I also had on a tiara, rhinestone earrings, rhinestone sunglasses, a silver-knit dress with big sequins and I padded my body so it was pretty voluptuous. If I won, I was going to say, 'Some of you think I've gone Hollywood.'"
She's been with her longtime partner and creative collaborator Jane Wagner for 41 years.
"I was already on 'Laugh-In' doing stuff when I met her, but she brought a much deeper, more elevated level to what I do. She's very smart and empathetic. She's a very special person. I don't know why other people's relationships don't work. I'm just very committed to our relationship and the last thing in the world I would want to do is betray that relationship."
"An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin"
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Tickets: 612-339-7007 or ticketmaster.com
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.