So I went to see Lily Tomlin.
She was good.
Now on to more important things...
Okay okay so she was freakin’ awesome!
Cue the gauze...spin the picture and flashback to 1980 when Patrick and I were cruising around town in my 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with T-tops listening to her album Lily Tomlin On Stage. Parked in an out of the way place we pulled out my portable bong and smoked and laughed and smoked and laughed like we were stoned people.
There in the darkness I imagined Lily up on stage creating her characters; Trudy the bag lady, Judith Beasley, Lud and Marie, Edith Ann, Ernestine, etc. I especially enjoyed Glena a child of the sixties sharing her adolescent angst and maturing through to adulthood.
I know this album word for word.
Montage! The show started with a short film montage of her characters that included a voiceover and when it reached a point where she said, “And now I’ve finally made it to_____________” She was back stage with a microphone and with an awkward pause finally said, “Pensacola”.
That was timing.
It was especially wonderful to experience these familiar people come to life in front of my eyes. The moment she channeled Trudy (the first character to appear) it was like she was possessed. The suspension of disbelief became instantaneous as the audience welcomed each new persona.
When she first took to the stage and was relating her travel and connection to the city and was going on to her bit about how she was worried that no one would show up and that there would really be no point in her being there if we hadn’t showed up when she sort rhetorically asked the audience what brought you here? Well some drunk woman with a pink boa wrapped around her neck jumped out of her seat and screamed, “It’s my Momma’s 60th birthday!” interrupting her train of thought.
She was stunned and interacted with the woman as people looked for a hook to yank the woman out of the audience. She sort of mumbled a bit trying to retrace her monologue and then she just stood there with her shoulders hunched and her brows knitted and her arms by her side with palms facing out looking blankly out into the audience. Then paced around a bit then sat down at her table and placed her hands to her forehead pretending to put on makeup and responded to an imaginary voice telling her it was time to go on, “Really? It’s time? What‘s the crowd like? Good?” She moved back into the pace with ease.
That’s the way it went for two wonderful hours. The most interesting revelation is that Ernestine is no longer working as a switchboard operator for the phone company now that the cell phone has been invented and has moved on to be a claims operator for an insurance company where she does the same routine of exerting power over her victims and denying their coverage.
It was an evening of her best material.