Zap2it: How was it to reunite with Betty White and “Carol Burnett Show” co-star Tim Conway for Wednesday’s (June 26) TV Land episode of “Hot in Cleveland”?
Carol Burnett: Well, Tim’s only in the last little bit — it’s almost like a cameo — but it was such fun, and also to be with Betty again. She was on my show many, many times, and she was one of our favorite guests. She and Allen (Ludden, White’s late husband) and all of us, we were very, very close through all the years. I think it started with “Password” (the game show Ludden hosted).
Zap2it: How did you find the atmosphere on the “Hot in Cleveland” set?
Carol Burnett: We had a wonderful time, and what I love about it is that it reminded me of our show; everybody got along great, and when you think about four women [as series co-stars], I’m sure it’s the same thing that happened on “The Golden Girls.” They all respect each other and help each other, and you can just feel the love.
Zap2it: You say you liked working in front of a live audience again. What do you recall most about doing that on “The Carol Burnett Show,” in terms of doing television comedy today?
Carol Burnett: We hardly ever did retakes. I think we did maybe a total of 12 in the 11 years of the show. I just wanted to barrel through and keep the audience up. Later, when I did some guest shots on sitcoms, I couldn’t believe it! They would take five hours to tape 22 minutes, and that made me nuts.
Zap2it: How did the studio audience respond when you first stepped onto the “Hot in Cleveland” stage?
Carol Burnett: What was nice was that they didn’t advertise that I was going to be on, so it was a surprise when I made my entrance, and (the reaction) was terrific. I was kind of embarrassed, but it was lovely. We did do a retake on that, because they’re not going to keep all of that in. They can’t.
Zap2it: Will your character be recurring, or is this one time only?
Carol Burnett: I don’t know. They have my character move to Cleveland, and if they ask me to come back occasionally, I would be happy to.
Zap2it: In a year when you’ll be receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, do you still like doing the live appearances in which you show career highlights and interact with the audience?
Carol Burnett: I have a great time, and the audiences are fabulous. And it keeps the old gray matter going. You can’t be thinking about yesterday or tomorrow when you’re there trying to answer questions in the present. It’s a really good exercise … that and crossword puzzles. And I’m happy that we’ve got an age thing where it runs from kids who are 8 or 9 years old up through people who are 90.
I was in Raleigh-Durham (N.C.) recently, and this little boy in the second row raised his hand and said, “I have a question.” I said, “Well, first, what’s your name?” He said, “Andrew.” And I said, “How old are you, Andrew?” He said, “Nine.” And I said, “And you know who I am?” And he said, “Surprisingly, yes.” Nine years old! Is that cute, or what? You can’t write that stuff.