Singing a carol of praises for Carol Burnett

Sat. April 30, 2022 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Carol Burnett has still got it in the year 2022 commanding a sold-out show at The Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State Street, on April 28. Her original date of appearance was supposed to be May 2020 but then was postponed multiple times due to the pandemic. This was a smart move as much of her audience is an older crowd and has possible health issues that risked exposure in close quarters. 

Her fans were eager to see her live and in-person for possibly the last time in Illinois. This talented comedienne just turned 89 years old the week of the Chicago show and the crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to her during the question and answer portion of the show. 

The evening began with a large screen on the stage of the iconic venue with a series of clips projected from The Carol Burnett variety show that originally aired on CBS from 1967 to 1978. The show brought a wave of nostalgia through the viewers at The Chicago Theatre that night and the vignettes still hold up with humor very well to this day. 

Burnett entered the room to thunderous applause and began by honoring her castmates who have passed away Harvey Korman and Tim Conway. This immediately set the tone to not just make it about her. She is a very humble person considering her body of work and that plainly shone onstage for all to see. This only made the spectators love her more. 

She boldly launched into a Q&A portion of the performance where ushers of the theater ran around with multiple microphones to take questions and comments from the spectators. Nothing was preplanned except for some of Burnett's usual responses. She has obviously heard many of the same questions over the years and knows how to navigate the conversation into an interesting story. 

The hilarious accounts of past moments were well worth the price of the ticket. This Emmy and Golden Globe winner was still a pro at quick responses and unforgettable tales from the past. Most of the audience was respectful and simply wanted to thank her for the memories. There were some thoughtful questions about guest stars and her many accolades. Burnett kept things on track while remaining modest. 

Burnett took a few breaks throughout the night by showing more segments from her hilarious arsenal of work and displaying her many guests on the show over the years. Designer Bob Mackie was an important aspect that she mentioned just by the sheer volume of costumes he produced for The Carol Burnett Show. 

Her voice faltered a bit at times most likely from speaking so much and I am sure she was grateful that no one asked for her classic Tarzan yell that she has done live for fans in the past. She looked amazing for her age and even spoke about facial work she had done to have a more pronounced chin. This happened in the middle of filming the movie Annie. If you go and look at the footage, then you can see the difference! 

Thanks to reruns of The Carol Burnett Show on different television networks the age range of her loyal followers has increased. She reminisced about a young child coming to her show and was surprised he knew who she was. References throughout the night ranged from The Front Page in 1974 to her Law & Order episode in 2009. One person asked about a possible Apple TV+ project that hasn't been finalized yet, so she couldn't speak much on it. 

There seems to be no stopping this triple threat at any age and she closed out the evening before hitting the road with her classic feel-good track "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together." It came time to say "so long" to one of the best in the business and hopefully, she will return sometime in the future.