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Make room for Mama: Vicki Lawrence coming to casino Friday
The Yuma Sun is giving away five pairs of tickets to see Vicki Lawrence perform at Quechan Casino Resort.
The giveaway will begin Monday morning, To enter, go to Facebook.com/YumaSunNews. Winners will be announced late that afternoon. Note that winners and their guests must be 21 years or older to attend this casino event.
Comic actress Vicki Lawrence admits she's too sweet to dish much sass during her live stageshows.
The Emmy Award winning performer leaves the sass to her sidekick, a curiously smooth-faced grandma decked out in a floral dress, droopy kneehighs and curly wig who's outfitted with a mouth capable of saying prit' near anything.
“Some jokes are safer for Mama! She gets to say whatever, because she's a crazy old lady,” Lawrence told the Yuma Sun during a recent phone interview from her Los Angeles home. “Whenever there's something going on in the world and I want to comment – Mama always gets the joke.”
Mama gets to speak her mind not only because she's a senior, but also because America loves her – and has for years. Lawrence created character, whose “real” name is Thelma Harper, when the comedienne was just 24 years old and making the world laugh in her seventh season on the “The Carol Burnett Show.”
“I went to Harvard School of Comedy in front of America,” Lawrence said. “Those were the good ol' days. We literally got paid for playing dress-up and we had a blast.”
Although her hit TV show “Mama's Family” has been off the air since 1990, Mama is once again letting the zingers fly – this time live and on stage. Lawrence and Mama are currently touring the nation in “Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show.” The two funny ladies perform in these parts on Friday, March 1. Their show is slated for 8 p.m. at Quechan Casino Resort for Mama fans who are aged 21 years or older.
“I think people will get a kick out of the things Mama has an opinion about. We're creating new material with a more modern and cutting edge. Where Mama is concerned, expect the unexpected. There's really nothing she can't do.”
Lawrence opens the show, then turns everything over to Mama about halfway through.
“The show is a mixture of stand-up comedy, music and my observations about real life,” she said.
Officials with Quechan Casino Resort say Lawrence's local fans are certainly excited that she's finally performing in their own backyard.
“I was searching for a great show that would appeal to our entire audience here at Quechan Casino Resort, and when I found Vicki Lawrence, I knew she would be a big hit,” said Veronica Menta, assistant marketing director. “One of the reasons I felt Vicki Lawrence is a good fit for us is because she is so multitalented. There is something for everyone and she is truly a funny, funny comedienne.”
Lawrence stepped into America's collective living room in 1967 when she joined “The Carol Burnett Show.” She performed alongside Burnett, Harvey Korman and Tim Conway through 1978.
“That show ran like a top,” Lawrence said. “People always ask what an executive producer does. In my mind, they hire all the right people and put them in all the right places and stand back and let them do their job. That's what Carol's husband did. Everyone was encouraged to fly. Everyone was so talented that the show ran exquisitely.”â€¨Lawrence recalled that Burnett was a young mother then. Her show's smooth operation allowed Burnett to see her children off to school each morning, then be home in time for dinner each evening.â€¨“We pretty much went like bats out of hell. It was live-to-tape for most of my career,” she said, saying it felt pretty much like performing live on stage thanks to the studio audience. “I get bored to death when I do film stuff. Oh God, take your knitting and your iPad.”
“Mama's Family,” a spin-off from the Burnett show, ran from 1983 to 1990 and featured performances by Carol Burnett and fellow popular comediennes such as Betty White and Rue McClanahan.
Lawrence also earned a #1 spot on the U.S. music charts in 1972 with her hit song “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.”
She hosted her own talk show, called “Vicki!,” from 1992 to 1994.
More recently Lawrence and Tim Conway teamed up to perform as husband and wife on the CBS show “Yes Dear.” She also had a reoccurring role on the popular TV show “Hannah Montana,” appearing as the grandmother of Miley Cyrus' character.
She and Mama are also spending lots on the silver screen lately, following the release of classic “Burnett” episodes on DVD. She's loving the chance to be funny alongside her longtime friend.
“It's been a blast. Carol says we're turning into an act again! That chemistry never goes away.”
That's true about chemistry, even if the sidekick lives into your own imagination.
Lawrence says she's truly delighted to be going full circle with her favorite character and bringing Mama back to her adoring public.
“I knew she had to come out of the closet because everyone loves her so much. But I didn't want it to be a retrospective. That wouldn't be fun for me. I wanted to push Mama into the new century, to let her be more topical on what's going on in the news.”
And will the new material be funny? Yes, a fact that inspired Lawrence to recall what she considers the best compliment she's ever been given. It happened at a casino in Laughlin when an employee asked if she wanted to know what “word on the casino floor” was saying about her show. Lawrence bravely nodded her head.
“He said people were saying ‘If you plan on seeing Vicki's show, the word is to wear your Depends,” she said, laughing.
So, her message for fans in Yuma?
“They've been forewarned.”