Lily Tomlin is a legend in her time
Pick an industry, any industry, and if you peel back enough layers you’ll eventually get to the pioneers—the people without whom an industry’s history could not be accurately chronicled. So culturally impactful are some of these people that a single name is all that’s required to identify them. Think Shakespeare and Picasso. Ford and the Wright brothers. Robinson and Ali. Elvis and Frank. Puck and Emeril. Gates and Jobs.
The world of comedy, of course, is rife with its own cache of pioneers, including a handful who paved the way for an entire gender. They, too, are easily recognizable: Lucy and Carol, Diller and Rivers, Gilda and Lily. Sadly, of this group of massively influential funny ladies, only two are still with us: Carol Burnett and Lily Tomlin.
It’s Tomlin who comes to town this week for an afternoon in which she will share stories and laughs from her remarkable career, which has spanned more than half a century and featured success in every conceivable medium—as confirmed by a trophy case that houses her seven Emmy awards, two Tony awards and one Grammy award. Tomlin is also the rare recipient of both the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and a Kennedy Center Honor. Whether onstage resurrecting one of her iconic Laugh-In characters or cracking wise in her Netflix series Grace and Frankie, Tomlin’s comedic chops remain as sharp as ever.
Indeed, just days after her 78th birthday, she serves as an important reminder of the immense contributions women have made to the art of comedy. And as today’s female comedians continue to soar in the industry—be it Tiny Fey and Amy Poehler on the screen, or Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman on the stage—they all owe a tip of the cap to Tomlin for setting the trail ablaze before them.
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, 2 p.m. Sept. 16, starting at $29 plus tax and fee. 702.749.2000