Lily Tomlin Packs Laughs at the Carnival Center

Lily Tomlin opened her set at the Carnival Center last night with a riff on Miami's notoriously confusing street grid. Brandishing a map, she said, "I'm not saying Miami's street system is complicated, but it is true that after visiting Miami the creator of Rand-McNally committed suicide," she said.

She said she'd been in town a couple of days, and had taken in the ocean, the domino scene on Calle Ocho, and the campus of the University of Miami, the latter of which set up one of her biggest laughs of the night: "College is a person's last chance to be completely and utterly irresponsible," she said. "Unless you happen to be the President of the United States."

Tomlin was a dynamo, leaping around the stage and vanishing into her many characters, including the snarky telephone operator Ernestine and the sweetly devilish six-year-old Edith Ann. Drawn from childhood memories and observational humor, her characters teeter on the edge between insanity and wisdom.

Both in her stand-up commentary and in her sketches, Tomlin displayed a healthy appreciation for absurd, bizarre humor, and a lot of verbal dexterity and wit. She ended the night with questions that had been pre-selected on index cards from the audience.

When one questioner asked if she'd ever considered putting her sketches into a format that would allow their "lessons" to be taught in the classroom, Tomlin looked up from the card with a smile and said, "Oh you sweet, believing person, you." --Frank Houston

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