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Tomlin gives life advice during standup show

Ashley Charnley and Caitlin Housely | Tuesday, September 28, 2010

“An Evening with Lily Tomlin” entertained a sold-out crowd in Saint Mary’s O’Laughlin Auditorium as the award-winning actress shared her many years of characters and standup comedy.

Tomlin came to Saint Mary’s as part of the Margaret Hill endowed lecture series, which brought director Hal Prince and actress Glenn Close to the stage in past years.

In her show, Tomlin said, “it’s not easy being a star.”

Through a series of clips from her career, Tomlin told students she’s been on a rollercoaster of career ups and downs. However, she made it to the pinnacle of her career by “going on the road to please Saint Mary’s.”

After sharing in the pain of Notre Dame’s loss to Stanford Saturday, consoling the audience that “in everyone’s life, a little darkness must fall,” Tomlin confessed some of her worries.

“Most actors worry about playing to an empty house. I also worry about playing to a full house and leaving the audience empty,” Tomlin said.

Through a series of character changes, Tomlin instilled life lessons in the Saint Mary’s audience.

She compared Facebook and Twitter to a black hole that sucks in all light and time.

“When does something stop being trendy,” she asked, “and qualify as being a disorder?”

She also addressed the issue of reality television shows.

“Before anybody else has their own reality show, they should provide proof that their lives have actually been in touch with reality,” Tomlin said.

In one of her many character changes, Tomlin addressed the issue of reality itself, and how it may not be such a bad thing to go against the grain.

“Don’t worry about what other people think of you,” she said, repeating her father’s advice.

She also spoke about her own role models and inspirations, sharing childhood stories involving her elementary school teacher.

Tomlin taught said every student should aspire to be somebody, no matter how mundane that somebody may seem. Tomlin herself previously wanted to make it big as a waitress, but instead, stumbled upon Broadway. She also said it is important to have great ideas, and to never worry about sharing those revelations with others.

Tomlin, a native of Detroit, used both her history in show business and her own personal life as inspiration for her 90-minute show.

Tomlin originally went to school to study medicine, but said she was drawn into her theater classes and the idea of putting on a show, she said in an interview with The Observer last week.

“In the past four years, Saint Mary’s theatre students have worked with the likes of actress Camryn Manheim, Broadway director Hal Prince, Glenn Close and now Lily Tomlin as Margaret Hill Endowed Visiting Artists,” Mark Abram-Copenhaver, professor of theatre, said in a press release.

“So our fourth-year theatre students will leave here having worked with high-profile masters of the theatre.”

Hill, an alumna of Saint Mary’s, is now a Broadway producer and continues to provide Saint Mary’s with this opportunity.

“That’s the power of an endowment, and we are so grateful to Peggy Hill for her gift,” Abram-Copenhaver said.

Tomlin also spent part of the day Monday in class with theater students.

“Lily Tomlin is a rare talent who makes it look effortless to move from comedy to drama and back again,” Abram-Copenhaver said in the release. “We are thrilled that she will work with our theatre students on the process of creating and developing a character.”