The Watchman: ‘Great News’ for Vicki Lawrence, and ‘Ask This Old House’ Hits 50

It’s the 50th anniversary of The Carol Burnett Show, and there may just be something in the works to mark the iconic sketch comedy program’s golden milestone. That’s according to Vicki Lawrence, who was on the show for all of its 11 seasons.

“I spoke with Carol and she thinks she’ll do something,” said Lawrence, who refers to her time on Carol Burnett, where she learned the art of sketch comedy from the likes of Burnett, Harvey Korman and Tim Conway, as the “Harvard school of comedy.”

The Carol Burnett Show debuted on Sept. 11, 1967, and ran until 1978.

Lawrence is keeping busy with a recurring role on new NBC comedy Great News, playing the best pal of Andrea Martin’s character Carol.

When it was decided that Carol’ s pal needed to be hatched, Lawrence said executive producer Tina Fey was adamant about having Lawrence play her.

“She said, please get Vicki Lawrence for me!” heard Lawrence, who said she and Burnett have been singled out by Fey and Amy Poehler for “leading the way” in terms of women doing comedy.

Lawrence has lots going on these days. She’s a spokesperson for the skin condition chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU), and she’s touring the nation with her stage show Vicki Lawrence & Mama: A Two-Woman Show. (Lawrence of course played Mama on Carol Burnett and the NBC comedy Mama’s Family.)

On Mother’s Day, the tour had her in Branson, Mo. “I’m just trying to keep the audience laughing,” said Lawrence.

Also enjoying a tour of our fine nation are the folks behind Ask This Old House on PBS. The show launched in 2002 and, before the new season began, the producers realized they’d been to 47 of the 50 states. So they made plans to visit Alaska, Kentucky and Hawaii, to knock off the remaining three.

The Hawaii episode will be the season finale, airing in early June. The episode saw the Ask This Old House crew visit a crafty local woodworker who works with Hawaiian hardwoods, and assist a homeowner in planning a sustainable garden to help feed her family.

“We didn’t want it to be a silly, touristy show,” said senior producer Heath Racela. “We wanted to tell authentic Hawaiian stories.”

Previous seasons saw the show work out a trip from a major locale to a nearby state it had not visited. One visit to Denver, for example, resulted in a pop-in to Cheyenne, Wyo.

Racela is happy to have visited all 50.

“It gives us a breadth, a perspective,” he said, “that maybe not a lot of other home renovation shows have.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.