Vicki Lawrence was an old lady at 24. Often, in fact. She may have been The Carol Burnett Show's junior cast member, but it was Burnett's show. She would always get to play Snow White, leaving Lawrence — hired to play Burnett's younger sister — to play the wicked, old witch.
Lawrence was not yet a quarter-century old when her most famous character was born. Mama was supposed to be a one-shot in a sketch about a loud, dysfunctional Southern family, but the popular bit grew into a recurring feature, and Lawrence's character eventually spun off onto her own show, Mama's Family. She's still playing the outspoken character today in a touring solo show called Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two Woman Show.
- Vicki Lawrence & Mama at EACC
"I'll share one of my favorite stories," Lawrence says, a little mischievously. "When we first started doing it, we got booked in Laughlin, Nevada, which is about 90 miles from Vegas, and a world away. It's on the Colorado. Mobile homes. A much older crowd. So we're working this big casino there, and the fella that booked the show came down on the second or third night to say hi. We were all sitting in the dressing room talking — me, my husband, who produces the show, and my son, who directs it — and he asks, 'Would you like to know what the word is out on the casino floor?' And I said, 'Sure, what is the word on the casino floor?' He said, 'The word is, wear your Depends.' That's probably the nicest compliment I've ever gotten."
Lawrence says she doesn't want the show to just be a retrospective. Mama has been brought fully into the 21st century. She has thoughts about current events, and, as you might expect, she doesn't hold back.