First of all, one week call! Yes, it’s one week til the next Concert For America! Grab tickets here! This time we will be in Hartford, Connecticut on October 16 with so many great people, including Matthew Broderick co-hosting with me and people like Capathia Jenkins (this song by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman with Martin Short is so crazily funny!)
We’ll also have Todrick Hall from Kinky Boots and American Idol performing. He’s so talented! Watch this:
ALSO! I got the footage from the reality videos I was doing a few years and just posted Episode 1. I had the best time watching it! It’s about my last minute panicking while I put on a benefit with Tituss Burgess, Andrea Burns, and Andrea McArdle. And throughout it all Ana Gasteyer keeps telling me she doesn’t remember her Elphaba songs even though she had just played the role on Broadway. I thought she was exaggerating but soon noticed she really didn’t remember the lyrics. And then I noticed, she didn’t remember the melody! It was crazy and terrifying since we were rehearsing an hour before the show.
By the end, they all sound amazing but, boy, is it nerve wracking to watch! And, PS, they never asked me to do another benefit.
So! I’m back from L.A.! I was out there doing the 50th Anniversary of the The Carol Burnett Show which will air in December, and I think it will be great! Right now, I’m in the middle of editing Seth’s Broadway Diary Volume 3 (which is a collection of my Playbill.com columns) and I thought I’d share this section about the first time I met Carol!
Last week was very exciting because a new DVD came out featuring tons of episodes from the original Carol Burnett Show. I was scheduled to talk with Carol, Vicki Lawrence, and Tim Conway on Seth Speaks, but first they were booked for a special show where lucky SiriusXM viewers got to come in and ask them questions. The cast was in the large studio that has enormous glass windows and there were listeners inside and crowded into the lobby as well. James came with me because he also grew up obsessed with the show, and we stood in the lobby and listened to comedienne Amy Schumer interview them. I remember Amy saying that she was about to get her own TV show. Boy, did she hit it big right after this! I was hoping to entice Carol and Vicki to sing something when I interviewed them, and Amy must have been told to see if they'd be willing to sing. Unfortunately, she was told to do it during her show! So, as I was watching the interview in the lobby through the glass windows, I heard Amy mention to Carol and Vicki that there was a piano behind her. Carol and Vicki acknowledged seeing it. Then Amy asked if they'd be willing to sing. Carol and Vicki both asked who would play the piano. Amy told them that the producer didn't quite tell her that part. There was a pause and I turned to James and asked, “What should I do? Should I run in there?” Two seconds later, I pushed past the crowd, went into the studio, hit a starting pitch and started playing “I'm So Glad We've Had This Time Together.” Carol and Vicki joined in and it was fabulous. Well, as they were walking out, I was semi-freaking out because I grew up loving that show so much, and couldn't believe I was finally going to get to meet them all. First, though, they had to go to another interview. Carol came up to me and thanked me for playing and asked my name. I said, “Seth,” and another producer told her that she was going to be on my show later that afternoon. Suddenly, her face lit up and she said, “Seth!?!?! Oh! I listen to your show all the time!” I could not believe she knew who I was. Of course, tears immediately came to my eyes because I was so happy. Who would have thought when I was a little boy on Long Island watching her show (I was 11 when it went off the air), I would one day meet her and she would tell me she listened to my show!?!?! All three of them then sat down with me for a chitty-chat and, of course, right after my initial question, Tim Conway asked if he was also required to speak that fast. #StillGotIt! Carol revealed that the biggest compliment she can get is when people tell her that they watched her show as a family… with their parents or grandparents. And, P.S., that's exactly what James told her. Hers is the show that always reminds him of his grandfather because they watched it together. I remember watching it on my Mom’s bed.
I asked her about doing Once Upon a Mattress, and she said that when the show closed Off-Broadway the entire cast picketed in front of their theatre (in full costume) looking for a new venue. They moved to Broadway and went from the Alvin to the Cort to the St. James to the Winter Garden. She said that Neil Simon quipped, “Have you seen Once Upon a Mattress? Don't worry. It'll soon be coming to a theatre near you.” I brought up the character of Eunice, and Carol, as usual, mentioned that the “Family” sketches were her favorites. I told Tim that I loved how he always spoke to “Mother Harper” like she was deaf, and I told Carol and Vicki how obsessed James, Juli and I are with the sketch where they play “Sorry.” Suddenly Carol and Vicki immediately recreated it for me on the air. Carol went into her character voice and screamed: “It was a seve-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-en!!!!!” Then Vicki, as Mama, said calmly, “Eunice seems to be of the opinion that it was a seven. So I will just move the yellow man back seven spaces, then I will move my blue man ahead seven spaces…landing on your green man sending him back to start. Sorry!!!!”
Watch the whole brilliant thing or start from 8 minutes in for the full devastating/hilarity.
Now, I’m reading Carol’s newest book and she talks about how they would always film one show using the script word-for-word and on the second filming, Tim Conway was allowed to improv. This is the classic scene where he starts a crazily long/hilarious story about elephants. It is relentlessly funny, and right at the end Vicki Lawrence lets loose with something that was not shown on TV. My favorite part is watching Tim Conway, who is always so contained and never breaks, laugh so hard. You see such a look of pure joy when he bursts out laughing.
Speaking of Seth’s Broadway Diary, you can get Volumes One and Two here… Volume Three coming soon!
And finally, I’m going to be in Chicago on October 28 for two shows! You can get tix here…and then peace out!