Wherever she performs her question-and-answer/ stroll-down-memory-lane shows these days, Carol Burnett finds that one kid in the audience who asks the most adorable question.
In Tucson on Saturday night, it was Skye, an 8-year-old girl who said she knew of the 79-year-old Burnett through her role as Ms. Hannigan, the drunken caretaker of Little Orphan Annie in the 1982 film "Annie."
"If I came up there, would you give me a hug or a pinch?" the little girl asked.
"Well come on up here," Burnett said, and the little girl bounded from her front-row seat up the stairs and onto the Centennial Hall stage.
"Let me see your outfit," the comic actress said, and Skye twirled around.
"First you get a hug," Burnett said, hugging the girl. "Then a pinch," she added, pinching the girl and bringing a wave of laughter and oohs and ahhhs from the audience.
Burnett, making her first appearance in Tucson, spent 90 minutes regaling the audience with tales from a TV and movie career that has spanned nearly 60 years. The performer showed clips from her namesake CBS variety show that ran for 11 seasons from 1967 to 1978. There was the famous "Gone With the Wind" parody, "Went With the Wind," where Burnett donned a Bob Mackie creation made from curtains and a curtain rod; the classic dentist sketch with Harvey Korman and Tim Conway; and a montage of guest stars from Steve Lawrence to Lucille Ball, who, she recalled, threw Burnett a black-tie baby shower.
But she spent most of the night with the lights of Centennial Hall lit as she answered questions from audience members.
There were a couple of requests for hugs from adult fans; Burnett awkwardly declined. One woman told Burnett she had dreamed the night before of giving her a necklace. Another woman said that her father was an artist and he was up in the balcony sketching Burnett and would Burnett sign the sketch after the show; the comedian told her to give it to an usher and she'd be sure to sign it.
Chloe Nelson asked Burnett if, given her enormous celebrity, had she ever been stalked?
"It's not so much now, but I cannot get rid of George Clooney," Burnett deadpanned. "I've changed my number. I've moved."
Awhile later, another woman asked if there was anything left on Burnett's bucket list: "Let George Clooney do what he wants to do," she responded, again bringing the audience to roaring laughter.
The evening also provided a reunion of sorts with an old cast mate from Burnett's run on "The Garry Moore Show," along with a few clunky moments that Burnett handled with grace. She even indulged a woman her fantasy to sing Burnett's sign-off theme song, "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together," even though the request came a few minutes into the show. Burnett, in a voice that sounded tired and a little hoarse, sang the song again to end the evening.
Burnett's show was a co-production of UApresents and Broadway in Tucson.
"Laughter and Reflection: A Conversation With Carol Burnett Where the Audience Asks the Questions" on Saturday at Centennial Hall.
Contact reporter Cathalena E. Burch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4642.