As I made my way home on the bus tonight I checked Twitter to see if anyone else had been to see Lily Tomlin and what they thought. I tend to follow a wide ranging group of people – I see as many people tweeting about rugby union matches as I do about Mardi Gras – and so wasn’t expecting to be inundated, but I was expecting to see something. The only comment I saw was from one of the lame-arsed young gay comedians I follow who tweeted something about how her comedy was stuck in the 70s.
Instantly, I had to respond with a comment about how she was both several times the age, and several times as funny as a lot of today’s so-called comedians. I mean, Lily Tomlin is a %^%&*(ing comic legend! And her characters are multi-dimensional, have something to say, and have made a real difference. And they’re funny!
Her best known character, the telephone operator who doesn’t help (yes, long before Little Britain) remained contemporary in tonight’s show as she took on the American health system with a biting commentary. In between these character spots, Lily can be a little eratic. Some things she says – like her comments on gay marriage – seemed to come from nowhere. They were still relevant and funny, but seemingly with little context.
A favourite spot was her Q&A session at the end where she answers written down audience member questions. Her response to the question “have you had sex with Oprah?” was “are you kidding? Gayle would break my back” which got a huge laugh. On stage, aged seventy-one, she remains a power-house: the show goes close to two hours with only a couple of “video breaks”.