Legendary comedian graces GBPAC



Legendary actress and comedian Lily Tomlin (of “Laugh-In fame) performed a one-woman comedy show last Friday, Oct. 6, at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performance Arts Center (GBPAC)

SHELBY WELSCH, Theater and Event Critic

Comedy is all about balance. It’s difficult to find the perfect joke or skit that will strike a variety of age groups, is conscious of political and religious differences and also keeps up with the times. I’m a pretty difficult person to offend, yet I find a lot of stand-up comedy to be over-sexualized or simply distastefully un-funny.

So, when I stepped into the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center (GBPAC) on Friday night to see Lily Tomlin’s stand-up comedy, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

To be honest, I had no idea how big of a deal this woman is. I knew that she starred in the totally hilarious Netflix series “Grace and Frankie,” but I had no clue that she was a successful comedian since the 1960s who had won tons of awards for her various acting and comedy roles.

Not to mention that she was even the voice of Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, which we all know to be a true masterpiece of a television series.

Her pre-existing acclaim notwithstanding, Tomlin’s stand-up itself was absolutely hysterical. Her skits told the story of her crazy, eventful and, sometimes, unhinged life. She touched on all the funny marks — political jabs, small little sexual innuendos, allusions to her childhood, etc.

But what struck me the most were the skits that reflected back on acting roles that Tomlin had played 10, 20, even 30 years ago.

She would start off the beginning of these skits by showing a small clip from the actual commercial or TV show and then impersonate that character in real time. It was so creative, and I loved that it showed how the times have changed tremendously.

Her “real time” characters would reflect on current politics, trends and discoveries, and were so stinkin’ funny. Tomlin’s facial expressions alone are enough to crack a person up. Her humor is just so light and simple that I seriously want to adopt her as my grandma.

While it was obvious that Tomlin was striving to keep her jokes fresh and relevant, some of the jokes were just simply not intended for my age group, and rather for people 40-plus years older than me — which is fine.

With one quick glance across the auditorium, I definitely was outnumbered by those who were a few years my senior. Although I could catch onto many of her references, some of her jokes referred to things that took place far before I was even born, and I occasionally felt a bit lost while the people around me were busting a gut due to laughing so hard.

My absolute favorite skit of hers was one where she was pretending to be her parents as well as her 15-year-old self. She prefaced the skit by saying that she was not proud of how angsty and unreasonable her 15-year-old self could be and said she empathized with her parents because she knew how dramatic and silly she was.

In the skit, her parents were arguing about whether her father liked the chocolate or plain cake that her mother made, and then little 15-year old Lily came out and freaked out that it was just cake and that she didn’t want to hear the word “cake” again.

Of course, the word “cake” came up five more times, and each time it did, angsty, teenage Lily would come out, the lights would darken, the death-metal music would cue and she would scream something along the lines of “NOT THE CAKE AGAAIINNN” at the top of her lungs. It was so funny, I had literal tears streaming down my face.

All-in-all, Lily Tomlin surprised me a lot. I expected her stand-up to be dated and a bit disinteresting to me, but boy was I so wrong about that.

This woman may be 78 years old, but she has the energy and enthusiasm of a 20-year-old. I would see her show again and again and hope to God I am half as fun and crazy as that woman is when I’m 78.