Carol Burnett Explains Why Variety Shows Are Not Successful Anymore

In her day, it was the job of Carol Burnett to make people laugh. Her show, The Carol Burnett Show, ran from 1967 to 1978 and once again in the fall of 1991. Wednesday night (September 16) though, it was Burnett’s turn to laugh.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Burnett made an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to talk about the DVD release of The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes. Colbert brought up the idol of Burnett, Jimmy Stewart. Stewart was one of the last guests on her show, and Burnett says that he surprised her when he came on to perform. Carol told Stephen that Stewart was always her idol and she admired him.

“I loved him. I grew up loving Jimmy Stewart as an actor and then as a person once I got to know him.”

Colbert then tells Burnett that there is someone on the show who sees her as an idol. It turns out to be Kevin Spacey, and he comes out to read a poem to Carol. It’s no ordinary poem, however. Spacey read the poem with an uncanny impression of Jimmy Stewart.

Burnett was so touched by the impression that Spacey did and the poem he read, it brought her to tears.

Variety reports that a day after the interview, Burnett made an appearance at the Roxy Hotel to promote the DVD release. Carol participated in a discussion with Andre Leon Talley after a screening of some of the material that will be on the DVD.

Burnett expressed her thoughts on variety shows and why hers was the last successful one to air.

“The talent is there. Neil Patrick Harris is very talented. But first of all, I don’t think the networks don’t have much faith in (variety shows), and second, you couldn’t do what we did now because of the cost. We had 60 to 70 costumes a week, 12 dancers, guest stars, on and on and on. It would have to be a different type of a way of doing a variety show now because of the cost. And boy, you have to have good writers!”

Burnett talked about playing the different characters on her show. She expressed that acting as certain characters helped her out personally, even though she is nothing like those characters.

“I’m not a person to confront or to yell but whenever I would do (those characters) I would feel so good (after). Your body doesn’t know when you’re acting, so when you scream as Eunice, afterwards all week my body would feel so calm. So even today, if I get upset, I will go into a room and do the Tarzan yell and feel so much better.”

The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes is now available on DVD.

[Photo Courtesy of Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images]