AUSTIN, FORT WORTH, HOUSTON, SAN ANTONIO
YES, CAROL BURNETT IS A TEXAN, and in the most valid sense of the term (she was born here). Though she moved from San Antonio to Hollywood at age seven, we don’t begrudge California for nurturing one of our most talented exports. But she’ll be all ours once again this month for a quartet of appearances, or what she calls “conversations,” in which audience members are encouraged to stand up and shout out their inquiries to the comedic queen. Is there any other celebrity so approachable? (She even called us herself—look, Ma, no handlers!—to schedule an interview.) Her candor has always been her strong suit, so we’re letting Ms. Burnett speak for herself.
I’m looking forward to coming back to my home state. Being a Texan is in your blood; I’m not even trying to escape it. I have strong memories of San Antonio. We lived on West Commerce Street, and our old house is still there. Back then my grandmother wouldn’t let me roller-skate in front of the house because the sidewalk was all crumbled up. So I skated in the hallway, which wasn’t quite level either. Last time I visited, the skate marks were still there, even though the people who lived there had tried to buff them out.
I remember Joske’s department store, the stuffed gorilla in the window of the Buckhorn Saloon that just terrified me, and, of course, the Alamo—luckily, I didn’t have to fight in it. I went to David Crockett grammar school, and the first time I performed, I was a blue fairy in a skit that we did on Pinocchio. My grandmother made me a gold wand out of a stick.
Doing these shows is like doing a crossword puzzle—they keep my brain active—and it’s just time to get back onstage. I don’t know what people are going to ask, so it’s fun. One time, I forget where, I called on this nice-looking man in a suit and tie. And he said, “It happens to be my birthday, and I really have always found you very, very attractive.” So I said, “Oh, get on up here,” thinking it would be fun to play with him. So he came to hug me, and I said, “Just a minute. We haven’t been introduced.” He apologized and told me his name was Bob and started again to give me a hug. And I said, “You’re a little overanxious here, Bob. Have you ever thought in terms of an older woman before?” And he kind of blushed, and I said, “What is it, Bob? Are you involved with someone else?” “Sort of,” he said. “I’m a priest.” There were two or three nuns in the first row who just about laughed right out of their habits.
I’m donating my salary from these shows to the Pasadena Playhouse, a little ninety-seat theater in California that was just named in honor of my late daughter, Carrie, who passed away from cancer in 2002. She was thirty. It’s quite a legacy for my daughter. So I’m glad to get on solid Texas ground— although I haven’t worn high heels in forever, so I’m really worried about my feet more than anything. Of course, I could just take the darn shoes off.
Sep 26: Bass Concert Hall, 23rd & Robert Dedman Dr, Austin; 512-471-1444; utpac.org. Sep 28: Bass Performance Hall, 4th & Calhoun, Fort Worth; 877-212-4280; basshall.com. Sep 29: Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, Houston; 713-227-4772; spahouston.org. Oct 1: Majestic Theatre, 224 E. Houston, San Antonio; 210-226-3333; majesticempire.com
The state’s musical psyche owes a lot to Lubbock, which has nurtured a wide swath of native talents and