Tuesday, May 10, 2011 , Updated 3:54 p.m., June 21, 2011
UPDATED Comedy review: Lily Tomlin at Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas
Tomlin was performing as part of a benefit for Vogel Alcove, a childcare center for homeless families.
Usually when an entertainer appears at a charity event, the reason people show up is more because of the charity they're supporting than who will be performing for them that night. Oh, sure, it's nice to see a big name, but you're paying money to support the charity, not the performer. Such was the case for the majority of the patrons at An Evening with Lily Tomlin at the nearly sold-out Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas Tuesday night, an event that benefited Vogel Alcove, a childcare program for homeless families in Dallas.
If there was any doubt where the focus was, it was put to rest by the long introductory portion of the evening, which included a children's choir singing "We Are the World," two videos about Vogel Alcove, and remarks from the chair and co-chairs of the event, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary. Tomlin was finally introduced with a video showing some of the wide variety of characters she's played through the years, which, for those not in-the-know, would give a preview for much of her act.
Tomlin's performance style is half observational stand-up, half sketch comedy, something that, given the lack of props on stage, made the 71-year-old seem just a tad schizophrenic. A bundle of energy despite her age, Tomlin stalked the stage back and forth, alternating between sitting in a chair on one side, standing dead center, or lounging on a small staircase on the other side. Tomlin's worldview in her stand-up seemed to be a nice mixture of positivity and negativity, as she expressed worries about various aspects of life.
Transitions into different characters were accompanied by changes in lighting and/or sound, some of which more successful than others. A bit where she portrayed a crazy homeless woman seemed a bit risky given her audience, but the crowd ate up her transformation into the 6-year-old Edith Ann. More than anything, Tomlin's act seemed to rely a lot on nostalgia, and anyone not familiar with her previous work might have been left scratching their head.
Given that the whole thing was for charity, it's hard to find much fault in Tomlin's performance. It was all for a good cause, so even if some audience members didn't find themselves enormously entertained, they probably still got their money's worth.
UPDATE: The Vogel Alcove raised $1.7 million. The group provides free childcare for homeless families.
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