The Carol Burnett Show and Mayberry Memories featuring Vicki Lawrence and Karen Knotts
Vicki Lawrence lit up TV screens for eleven years on The Carol Burnett Show and for an additional six years in her own spin-off sit-com, Mama’s Family. Mama has since become a cultural icon so take a seat and roll down your nylons. She’s still got plenty to say in "Vicki and Mama: A Two Woman Show."
Vicki’s one hit wonder, “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia shot to number one and inspired a movie. But can Vicki explain the plot? The answer lies inside this episode which also features Karen Knotts whose one woman show pays tribute to her fabulous father, Don Knotts.
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Louise Palanker (00:04):
Welcome to Media Path. I'm Louise Palanker.
Fritz Coleman (00:07):
And I'm Fritz Coleman
Louise Palanker (00:07):
Today on the show, we have multiple people with multiple talents who perform. One person shows. Vicki Lawrence has her own show called Vicki Lawrence and Mama a two Woman Show. Spoiler. They are actually the same one person, and we will have Karen Knotts, who performs a show called Tied Up and Knots, a tribute to her Marvelous Father Don Knots. And did you know our own Fritz Coleman will be staging his one man show very soon in Los Angeles? We've got so much to tell you Vicki and Karen will join us shortly. But first, Fritz, what have you been watching this week? I'm really
Fritz Coleman (00:38):
Excited to tell people about this. Yep. Uh, it, it's a show on Netflix called The Staircase, and there's also a dramatized version on H B O Max, which I have not seen. This is a documentary. The film started in 2004 and continued off and on for 15 years. It's the story of novelist Michael Peterson, who's a convicted murderer, convicted of murdering his wife. Kathleen Peterson filming starts right after his indictment and continues through his conviction, his eight years in prison on a life sentence, the dismissal of that verdict and the order for a new trial or a plea bargain, it's 13 episodes, but I'm telling you, it is well worth binging. I don't know how they did it, but a French film crew under the direction of Jean Xavier Detra got complete access to this story from the Peterson's extended family with all their private family gatherings.
The, uh, defense team, including meetings of the defense strategy meetings, mock trials, focus groups, all the way to all the activity in the courtroom. They even showed the jury interview the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys, and you really follow the minutiae of this case from start to finish. They had to get the jury to sign off on this, the judge, and they all expose their, uh, participation in this. It was fascinating, a great look at how a murder defense strategy works to how the children of a convicted murderer are able to stay by their father's side and believe in his innocence, even though the evidence points elsewhere. It really drills down to the forensic stuff too, like physical evidence and dna. I am not a huge true crime fan, but this is actually more than that. It it's a great look at the nuts and bolts of the criminal justice system and how it takes a wealthy person to be able to afford the strongest defense. He spent millions of dollars on his defense, and in the end it doesn't even work. It, it's a long series of 13 episodes, but fascinating.
Louise Palanker (02:33):
You know, it really, it was fascinating. I, we started watching it. My husband is a prosecutor, so I would freeze it and say, why is this happening? What does that mean? And, you know, he would explain things, but then he said he had trouble sleeping because he felt like it was his case. Yes. He had to figure out how
Fritz Coleman (02:46):
To, well, I, I'm anxious to hear Ronnie's opinion about it and how they got licensed to in invade this process. I
Louise Palanker (02:53):
Mean, I don't, I think their film crew was there. I don't know when it was released, because it starts out in 2001 when the crime takes place and this guy's such a narcissist. You could see him like lining up a film crew to follow him around. Like he just loves hi himself. He thinks that he's the most compelling thing and can talk anybody into anything, including his own family, if
Fritz Coleman (03:11):
That were true. Yeah. If he sold the rights to his story, he wouldn't have been, uh, broke at the end of the movie.
Louise Palanker (03:18):
I don't think he sold it. I think he paid them to follow him around. Oh man. Because he thought him himself, that interest. It was
Fritz Coleman (03:23):
Louise Palanker (03:24):
But I was like, I know the internet must be just completely on fire with opinions, but did you notice Fritz, that he calls 9 1 1 and says, my wife fell down the stairs. How does he know she fell down the stairs? Yes, he finds her at the bottom of the stairs, but it does, it does not look like a fall. It looks like a violent attack. Yeah. So he calls 9 1 1, he's screaming, and my wife fell down the stairs. To me, I think that's a red flag because if you found your wife anywhere in the house looking like she looked with blood everywhere, you'd be like, who attacked my wife?
Fritz Coleman (03:51):
This is a, a as you said, a narcissist. A a thoroughly self-obsessed man. Not, not one time did I believe his story, because he never broke his emotional, uh, level during the whole time. And the heartbreaking part of the story was him, uh, expecting his daughters and his family to believe them. And they did to the very end. It broke my heart. But it was, it wasn't an interesting though. I loved
Louise Palanker (04:16):
It. It was absolutely captivating. So now I'm gonna look forward to watching. I think it's Collin, one of the Collins, the British Col is probably, you know, with his North Carolina accent, which you do more perfectly than people from North Carolina, but it's on hbos,
Fritz Coleman (04:28):
HBO O Max, and they say that's even better cuz they get more honest than they're about their opinion of this guy.
Louise Palanker (04:33):
Okay, good. Because it's hard to watch something from the defense perspective for that long mm-hmm. <affirmative> when you know that this guy did it. At least that's how I felt. So my pick this week is a podcast and I'm recommending it's called Dead Eyes, dead Eyes podcast with Connor Ratliff, actor comedian Connor Ratliff embarks upon a quest to solve a decades old mystery, which has haunted and shaped his trajectory. Why did Tom Hanks fire him from a small role in the 2001 H B O mini-series Band of Brothers? As Conor dives deeply into his own history, speaking with casting agents, managers, producers, directors, and fellow actors in search of an answer to this one specific question. What he finds is that most of us have experienced moments where somebody with respect and importance gave us negative feedback. What matters is not so much about what they said or how brutally we were dismissed and discouraged, but what we did to then pick up our broken pieces and move on.
The business of acting is so deeply personal and specific that it offers a perfect lens through which we can examine our disappointments and recoveries through the consistent auditioning and rejection and admonishments and being cut out of things are fired from things or recast actors are bombarded with negative feedback. Connor's case feels especially epic because he was specifically forsaken by an American treasure. Tom Hanks, who legend has it looked at Connor's performance and said, we need to recast him. He has dead eyes. Now you may be thinking, Hey, Tom Hanks, a lot of soldiers were walking through World War II with dead eyes. And how would Tom Hanks respond to your insight? Or more specifically, does Connor work his way through everyone loosely associated with the specter of this memory and make it all the way through to Mr. Tom Hanks? Does Tom Hanks say Private Ryan or private Connor? Listen and learn. You will find dead eyes where you find your podcast.
Fritz Coleman (06:20):
That sounds fascinating.
Louise Palanker (06:21):
Yeah, it's really good. I'm not even done with it. I'll maybe speak more about it once I get to the end where I think he, you know,
Fritz Coleman (06:27):
It was guts on both of their parts. The guy who exposed that insecurity of himself and then Hanks coming on Theself.
Louise Palanker (06:32):
But I think it's like three years of this thing before Hanks finally hears about it. And so, alright. And that's my Tom Hank's impression. Okay. So Fritz, tell us about your upcoming show at the
Fritz Coleman (06:40):
Gallery. All right. It just indulges me for a second. Yeah. I'm gonna plug a show. I'm not doing this all the time. One of our great guests a few months ago was Mark Arthur Miller. He's a very talented soul, r and b and jazz singer. He's got a fantastic album called Soul Searching. Well, I'm gonna do a show with Mark at the iconic Los Angeles room, the Catalina Bar and Grill on Sunset Boulevard here in Los Angeles. I am stoked to open the show for him. It's Sunday, August 7th at seven 30. You'll see a link to the website. It's catalina jazz club.com. There's information about the show clips from Mark and I more on this later Sunday, August 7th, catalina jazz club.com. It will be Baby Boomer Nirvana. Trust me. Awesome. Awesome. Thank you for letting me talk about it.
Louise Palanker (07:21):
All right, Fritz. Well, American success story, Vicki Lawrence was discovered when she was in high school by Carol Burnett herself. Carol's instincts were stellar. The kid has it. Vickie is an actress, comedian, and pop singer, best known perhaps as mama. And for the voluminous character she created on her 11 year Carol Burnett Show Run. From there, Vicki has had a massive hit record and starred on stages and screens throughout our lives and our memories. Welcome, Vicki.
Vicki Lawrence (07:49):
Hi, you guys. I'm just writing down here. Yeah. I need to watch the staircase. Nice. <laugh>.
Louise Palanker (07:57):
Very good. It's calling.
Vicki Lawrence (07:59):
I love Colin Firth.
Louise Palanker (08:01):
Yeah. Um, yes. Colin Firth. So I, my first question, I'm certain that this is in your, this is number one on your FAQs, but tell us about the day that Carol Burnett showed up at the Misfire Ball contest in Inglewood, California.
Vicki Lawrence (08:14):
<laugh>. Well, I, yes, I was a, a senior in high school and I entered local contest called Miss Fireball, which was the fireman's ball was coming up and they wanted some girls to sing and dance, so they said, we'll call it a contest. And, uh, so they got a bunch of us local gals and yeah, we were all excited to be Miss Fireball. We did two CanCan numbers together and we each did an individual talent. I played the guitar, I sang, won't You Come Home, bill Bailey? And I played a Kazu <laugh>,
Louise Palanker (08:45):
You've got my vote.
Vicki Lawrence (08:46):
Before the contest. The local newspaper gal wrote, you know, about, about the whole thing coming up. And she ran a picture of all the girls and she said that I, uh, bore striking resemblance to a young Carol Burnett. At which point my mom said, you need to write a fan letter to Carol. And I was a big fan letter writer when I was a kid. I wrote to, uh, my walls were covered with, but mostly guys that were on TV back in the day.
Louise Palanker (09:08):
Yeah, yeah. Like who was on, I wanna know who was on your wall now that we're stopping right here,
Vicki Lawrence (09:13):
Baby and Johnny Cro <laugh>, um, uh, what's his name from, uh, the Donna Reed Show? Uh, Paul Peterson.
Louise Palanker (09:21):
Paul Peterson, yes.
Vicki Lawrence (09:23):
Rush on him. Uh ha. Who are the monkeys? All the monkeys. Um, I don't everybody that you can think of. Bobby Riddell, Bobby v uh, you know, singers, actors? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but not a lot of women. <laugh> <laugh>. Anyway, I wrote her a fan letter. I said, yeah, everybody says, I look like you. I ain't closed this article with the picture. And, uh, the letter just happened to land on her desk prior to that contest. And, uh, for some odd reason, uh, I mean, I, it was just very, uh, serendipitous. She took my, she took my dad's name outta the article. She looked us up in the phone book. She called me, she said, I want to come and see this contest. Uh, and I, I thought she was nuts. I <laugh>, when does something like that happen? Anyway, she came to Hollywood Park. You guys don't remember Hollywood Park. People don't remember it anymore cuz now it's the SoFi Stadium. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, but back in the day, it was the racetrack. That's actually where I learned to drive at in the parking lot at Hollywood Park <laugh>. Um, she said, I wanna come down, see the contest at the racetrack. And her husband said, what the hell is she a jockey? <laugh>?
Here we go. So, you know, she came down, watched the contest. It just so happened that she had just moved out from New York and they were just right in the throes of putting together the Carol Burnett Show. And she thought, wouldn't it be a novelty to have a kid that looks like me? Uh, so that, I mean, what are the odds that, that was of my senior year, uh, by January, I've still not heard from her. She's, she crowned me. The winner took a picture with me and the mayor, and, you know, the head of the firehouse and Carol. And she is, you know, 14 months pregnant and, uh, didn't from her in January. So, um, uh, I come home from school one afternoon. My mom says, they announced on the phone on the, uh, radio that Carol is at St. John's. She had the baby.
So I was on my way to do a recording session with the Young Americans, which I, I used to sing with the Young Americans, uh, when I was young. And, um, we were on our way to the session. I said to the guy I was ridesharing with, I said, let's stop at the hospital. I'm gonna run in and see her. Aw. And he said, run in and see Carol Burnett. And I said, well, I know I'm gonna try. So we go to St. John's, I'm like, third floor maternity up the elevator. There's two nurses sitting near, they're not doing anything twiddling their thumbs. I said, I'm here. Hi you guys. I'm here to see, uh, Mrs. Hamilton. And they took one look at me and said, oh, well you must be your sister, Chrissy, where do you see her? Where do you see the baby
Louise Palanker (12:04):
Fritz Coleman (12:04):
Vicki Lawrence (12:06):
Nowadays I would be arrested for being a stalker. Of course. But back in the day, and she was sweet as she could be, and she said, I haven't forgotten you. And several months later they called me down to CBS and said, would I audition to play her sister on this show? We're putting together,
Fritz Coleman (12:21):
Had you graduated from high school when you started the whole thing? You were 17 years old?
Vicki Lawrence (12:25):
I gra I saw a visitor in the hospital and I think it was January of February, I graduated in June. I started at U UCLA cuz that was my dad's alma mater and his dream that I would go to ucla, I started there and on the Burnett Show, the same fall. Wow.
Louise Palanker (12:39):
And that's where, that's where Carol went. So it was, yeah, it must have been just that, you know, you were really good. So it's not just that you looked like her, but once you started and once people started working with you, it was like, this kid is awesome. She can do it all.
Vicki Lawrence (12:54):
I, I'll tell you what, Louise, a lot of people had to work with me cuz I was not really good
Louise Palanker (12:58):
Fritz Coleman (13:00):
But it was really interesting casting. You started playing Carol's younger sister and you ended up playing her mother Thelma Harper. That probably hasn't happened in chop
Louise Palanker (13:09):
Business. That's the whole family tree right there.
Vicki Lawrence (13:11):
No, I was terrible. Carol said the suits came down and said, could we replace her with an act actress cuz she's kind of rough. And Carol said, I told them she is a diamond in the rough. She, I mean this wouldn't happen nowadays, nowadays. You know, the judges would vote you off or if they didn't, <laugh> course would vote you off, you know. So I really feel like I got to grow up in front of America. Consequently, many of my fans are, they just feel like we grew up together. We did.
Louise Palanker (13:39):
Yeah, no, you absolutely have grown up with all of us. There's no question that we all feel like you're our big sister or our little sister. No question about that. Cuz you just have those endearing qualities and uh, yes. Maybe people had to work with you, but you had the stuff there to, you know, great clay, you know, you are a great clay and you went, you kind of probably have a personality to where people enjoyed teaching you.
Vicki Lawrence (14:03):
Well, I was very quiet people. I mean, they would tell you, I didn't say two words. I was sort of scared of my shadow. Uh, very shy. But yeah, it was, I learned you, it is hard not to learn from most people if just by osmosis just watching. And, you know, I I, and I've said it, I feel like I went to the Harvard School of Comedy in front of America.
Louise Palanker (14:24):
Now, how many of those boys on your wall did you get to meet
Vicki Lawrence (14:29):
Louise Palanker (14:31):
Vicki Lawrence (14:32):
<affirmative>, uh, what was the show? Louise forgot to say. Oh,
Louise Palanker (14:34):
Here come the brides. Of course.
Vicki Lawrence (14:36):
Oh yeah. Here come the bride. Yeah. <laugh>. Yeah. How could I that Yes, I did get to meet Bobby Sherman. Well, I think that's probably about it.
Louise Palanker (14:46):
All right. Well we, so
Fritz Coleman (14:47):
How far into the show did you go from the younger sister to the mother role and, and explain who Thelma is?
Vicki Lawrence (14:55):
Mama happened about the fifth season. I was 24 and two of our writers wrote this. Uh, they both came from dysfunctional upbringings <laugh>. So they beautiful homage to their horrible mothers. And he wrote Mama for Carol. And Carol didn't wanna play the part. She said, it doesn't speak to me, the part that speaks Eunice. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, uh, so they were very upset. And uh, then she went to Bob Mackey. She said, don't you think we could make Mickey mama? Don't you think we could? And he said, yeah, we could. Because by then he had made me many old ladies. You know, I, it was like if Carol was Shirley Temple, I was the mean old school teacher. And if Carol was the Cinderella, I was the wicked witch. That's just kind of the way it went. So, uh, mama was, you know, nothing new, another old lady to play. I feel like I kind of drew on a southern mother-in-law that I had for a nanosecond second <laugh> <laugh>. And, um, a little bit, my grandma, my grandma and I sort of look separated at birth. She never got, she never lived to see it. I'm sorry. But if you look at the pictures side by side, it's frightening.
Louise Palanker (16:03):
Mama is an emotionally abusive mother who is illustrating the systemic intergenerational trauma of family dysfunction. But the sketches and the show use humor to pull us in and force us to really look at it and see how cruelty breeds cruelty. And I I'm wondering what people have said to you over the years, because there's something very real in it.
Vicki Lawrence (16:28):
Well, I think the sketches on the Burnett Show were very, very real. Uh, they were almost little dramatic pieces. A lot of them, they were little tear jerkers.
Fritz Coleman (16:36):
You said. She would say the wrong thing at the wrong time, but always get to the truth, which is a great description.
Louise Palanker (16:43):
But she was cruel Fritz. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's the thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's why Eunice's Eunice, because she was just awful.
Vicki Lawrence (16:49):
Well, I think Eunice had absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever. <laugh>. So Mama knew that and she just beat the crap out of her and just killed dreams. And, um, and she was mean on the Burnett Show. And so when, when it went to series, all of a sudden it was like, I can't be this mean old lady. Yeah. We did two show. We went to a series without a pilot. Joe sold the series on the golf course to Grant Tinker, who was the head of n c at the time without a pilot. So we went to series not really knowing who we were. And uh, it was up to the writers to figure that out on the fly. And we did two shows. And I said, these are not funny. And I, we shut down. I said, I need Harvey to come in. I can't, cuz Harvey was such a mentor to me. Uh, and I sat down with him. I said, Harvey, what the hell? And he said, well, she's gotta now be a sitcom star. You people aren't gonna come home, uh, uh, after a hard day at the office, pop a beer and watch this lady screaming everybody for a half an hour. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you never come a sitcom star.
Louise Palanker (17:50):
So how did they make her more three-dimensional?
Vicki Lawrence (17:53):
You have to laugh. You have to. I said, she's never even smiled. How's she gonna laugh? <laugh> you or she, any character that you love, that that you do that well is a part of you, which is scares the hell outta my husband, <laugh>. But, uh, he was, I mean, he was responsible for turning her loose, turning her into this silly little peacock that she became. And there really wasn't anything she couldn't do on, on Mama's family. She did everything from dirty dancing to running for mayor. She did everything.
Fritz Coleman (18:25):
Thelma's life philosophy is that most people think we're going to hell in a hand basket, but Thelma believes we're already there. <laugh>. I love that. <laugh>. That was a cool thing. You know
Vicki Lawrence (18:34):
What fun about my show, when I put it together, I said, I really don't want this to be retrospective. I wanna really push Mama into the modern world. I wanna push her into the new century and let her deal with all the stuff that's going on in the world. And God knows you have more material than you can deal with nowadays. Um, you know, the world's just gone nuts. So Mama has a lot to say and
Fritz Coleman (18:58):
It's, was it kind of an appeal like the Carol O'Connor appeal in his show where, uh, you had the guts to speak what many people were feeling, but didn't have the guts to speak as Carine on his show. And it resonated. I remember my mom, my grandmother used to watch on the family, and she, she didn't even get the humor of it. She just believed in his political philosophy and it resonated with him that way. <laugh>, it's so funny. Anyway. Yeah,
Vicki Lawrence (19:26):
I've, I've of, I've often equated mama to Carol O'Connor. I think everybody knows somebody like that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we all know an Archie Bunker. We all know a Thelma Harper. She's at your Thanksgiving table and she says the most adorable things. And you know, when you're doing the dishes with your sister, you're laughing about it. Can you believe she said that? But I think everybody knows her. And that's what I hear from my aunt. You're my aunt, you're my mother, you're my grandma.
Louise Palanker (19:49):
What does mama keep in her purse?
Vicki Lawrence (19:52):
Oh, not much. <laugh>. <laugh>. She's probably got some mace and, uh, some
Louise Palanker (19:58):
To <laugh>, some Thomas, maybe
Vicki Lawrence (19:59):
A, maybe a roll of toilet paper that she stole.
Fritz Coleman (20:03):
Why you have admitted, uh, and are quite proud of the fact that, uh, this character mama is big in the L G B T Q community. Why do you think that is?
Vicki Lawrence (20:14):
Well, she's pretty fun. You just dress up and you hide behind all that silly costume and you can say whatever the hell you want. You get away with it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Louise Palanker (20:24):
Yeah. So it's freeing. And also someone gives you a chair, <laugh>, you know, you don't have to wait in lines.
Vicki Lawrence (20:31):
And if they don't, you just smack 'em with your purse.
Louise Palanker (20:34):
Fritz Coleman (20:34):
Right. But a guy that wrote a review of your show in San Francisco said, she's like the perfect drag queen. All the attributes feisty and campy and flamboyant. And it hearkens back to like vaudeville days. And it just resonated with them. Yeah. And they all wanted to be you. And you made a great comment. You said, uh, mama would make a great drag queen because it's an easy outfit to put together,
Vicki Lawrence (20:58):
<laugh>. It is. And I still, Ritz, I get the pictures every year at Halloween of people that have dressed up as mama from kids to grown men, of course. Somewhere down south. I can't remember where. And I got the, I was charged by a six foot five unit <laugh>
Fritz Coleman (21:14):
Vicki Lawrence (21:16):
Came flying down the aisle and charged the stage. And I'll tell you what, he was quite something <laugh>.
Fritz Coleman (21:21):
Louise Palanker (21:22):
Any injuries? That's funny.
Vicki Lawrence (21:23):
Well, no security stopped in written. We just, uh, we nearly peed in our pants. I think we probably, half of us did.
Louise Palanker (21:30):
<laugh>. All right, so here's a challenge for you. Pretend it's not a song, but a newspaper article and give us the who, what, where, when, how, why of the night the lights went out in Georgia.
Vicki Lawrence (21:41):
You know, I'm still not sure I was, um, amazed when they did a movie of that. Cuz I said, I cannot wait to see how it ends, <laugh>. But I think, uh, the sister did it right? Me? The girl did it. The sister.
Louise Palanker (21:59):
Yeah. I always felt the the person singing did the crime because, uh, because of the line that says, uh, how does it go an innocent man?
Vicki Lawrence (22:10):
You're asking me how it goes,
Fritz Coleman (22:12):
<laugh>. I thought that the, the title though, the Night the Lights went out in George is a great metaphor for exactly what's going on down there right now.
Louise Palanker (22:18):
Oh, yes. But it's the night they hung an innocent man. So I think the person singing is the one who did it. Right?
Vicki Lawrence (22:25):
Yeah. And she knows that they, they're blaming the wrong person. Right? Yeah.
Louise Palanker (22:29):
But I think they, the night the lights went out in Texas should be the sequel because of the grid down there.
Vicki Lawrence (22:34):
Oh Lord. Poor Texas <laugh> we're, I'm, I'm not sure. We shouldn't just kind of just cut off Texas and Florida. Let 'em float on off. Seriously.
Louise Palanker (22:45):
Well, you know,
Fritz Coleman (22:47):
Well, mama's family was syndicated for five years. Yes. And can still be seen on all these various, uh, nostalgia platforms now, which is unbelievable. Yeah. You, you absolutely.
Vicki Lawrence (22:59):
I have not gotten X fan mail as I did during the pandemic ever in my career.
Louise Palanker (23:04):
Oh my goodness.
Fritz Coleman (23:05):
That's so interesting. Oh,
Vicki Lawrence (23:06):
Just want silly laugh.
Fritz Coleman (23:09):
You've got two books. You've got your autobiography, Vicki, the True Life Adventures of Ms. Firecracker and Mama for President. Good Lord. Why not
Vicki Lawrence (23:18):
<laugh>? Yes. Which I think they should reissue and say Vicki or Mama for President. I told you so. <laugh>.
Louise Palanker (23:28):
That's awesome. All right. So what went on with Dick Clark? I know you love game shows and you're very good at them, but there's something about verbally sparring with Dick Clark where you walk out or, you know, was he difficult?
Vicki Lawrence (23:41):
Oh my God, I loved him. We loved to just tease each other. We loved it. Yeah.
Fritz Coleman (23:48):
I missed, yeah, you did your own talk show. You did Win Loser Draw and you had your own talk show for a while, right?
Louise Palanker (23:53):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. You did. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But in your book, you talk about being a woman in a man's world and abuse that you have faced on the set. Do you have anything that you can teach us
Vicki Lawrence (24:03):
That I can teach you? Just, just that things are getting better. I think they're, a lot of times we think we're not moving. I don't know what we're doing now. I think we're kind of doing a lateral, uh, I don't know why <laugh>.
Fritz Coleman (24:16):
Um, but your story is interesting because this is pre-me too. You had the, you were abused by a coworker, but what happened was you ended up getting fired and the coworker, the perpetrator stayed employed, which probably wouldn't happen now, I don't think.
Vicki Lawrence (24:31):
Well, cause that was the nineties. It was still very much a man's world. Now I think somebody would listen to me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Uh, but back in the day, uh, they didn't, they didn't, you were the woman and you were the one, which is, this is interesting you guys. What do you think about Johnny Depp? Amber hurt. I'm very torn. Yeah. I feel like because she's a woman, people may just tend not to believe her at all. And that's probably a terrible thing to
Fritz Coleman (24:59):
Say. Well, her Achilles heel is, she's a bad actor, so she's not delivering this material well facing the jury. Any coach would say, please don't face the jury. It's, it looks too forward. But anyway. Oh, is that what he, but I'll tell you, I think there are, I I think you're absolutely right, Vicki. I, I think there's a, the side of his life that might have to be addressed later is the abusive side. It's obvious. The truth is, he was very abusive to his spouses and girls. That's an issue that, you know, doesn't really have anything to do with a lawsuit. But, uh, it's, but he seems to be winning this public relations battle.
Vicki Lawrence (25:29):
Yeah, it's, and it'll be interesting.
Louise Palanker (25:32):
No, I would love to hear your thoughts cuz I have not been following the trial, so please tell me what's been happening and tell me your thoughts.
Vicki Lawrence (25:38):
I haven't much either, but I do. And I just can't believe that they wanted cameras in that courtroom or that No. That, that can't believe that many people are watching all this dirty laundry. But, um, I do just kind of feel that people still have a tendency to not believe women.
Louise Palanker (25:57):
Yeah, yeah. That is,
Fritz Coleman (25:58):
Yeah. They'll let the cameras in the courtroom for the, uh, Amber heard Johnny Depp trial, but not the Supreme Court. There's something wrong with that.
Vicki Lawrence (26:05):
<laugh>. Yeah. There is something wrong with that. Yeah. Wow. Yeah. Yeah. What a
Louise Palanker (26:09):
World. Now you have an event coming up that you wanna tell everybody about, right? Vicki?
Vicki Lawrence (26:15):
Oh, you talking about the Agua Calle? Yes. Yes. Well, it's my first show in quite a while, and so I'm very excited. I'm happy to be with Peeps out here in California. Always great audiences. Uh, gue is a beautiful spot. It's a beautiful venue and, uh, I'm really looking forward to it. Uh, this Saturday night at, um, eight
Louise Palanker (26:37):
O'clock. And where do people go if they would like to purchase tickets? Can they just show up or should they get them in?
Vicki Lawrence (26:44):
I think, uh, I don't actually know what they're doing. I, well, I know you can get 'em in advance. Uh, I don't know if this is on, uh, reserve tickets. Go to their website.
Fritz Coleman (26:53):
It's called Vicki Lawrence and Mama a two woman show. And, and there are clips on YouTube. Great clips of you having a dialogue with your show. Yeah. You interview. Is that, is that what the show is about? Sort of, is that the flavor of the show?
Vicki Lawrence (27:05):
Well, you know, when I put the show together, I knew everybody would wanna see Mama cuz they love her so much. But I still think I'm kind of funny <laugh>. So my
Fritz Coleman (27:12):
Vicki Lawrence (27:14):
My half of the show is sort of largely autobiographical because a lot of the stuff that happened to me just doesn't happen anymore. And people love hearing all those good old stories. So it's, you know, how Carol found me, how I became a redhead, how I met my husband, how did Mama happen? How did you have a hit record? One hit record and no more. Um, so it's all those fun stories and, uh, and then, uh, we run some outtakes from mama's family and, uh, mama gets to come out and mama's sort of my chance to, as I said, riff on everything that is driving all of us crazy in the
Louise Palanker (27:45):
World. Now, when Mama comes out, does she disagree with everything that Vicki has just said?
Vicki Lawrence (27:50):
Well, she just can't really much be bothered with Vicki <laugh>.
Fritz Coleman (27:55):
You, you brought up your marriage. You've been married to Al Schultz for 44 years. He was a Wow. Not when you hear that number, he, he's a professional makeup artist. And, and people often ask you for beauty tips and you say, I just sleep with my makeup artist. <laugh>.
Vicki Lawrence (28:10):
Fritz Coleman (28:10):
<laugh> Al Al produces your one woman show and your son directs. That's exciting.
Vicki Lawrence (28:16):
Well, uh, yeah, he took over for, uh, Al a few years ago and, uh, started directing the show and he's wonderful. He's, it's so nice to go on the road with, uh, family. If you, you know, if you can work with your family, there is nothing better, Gary, if you can't, nothing worse. But
Fritz Coleman (28:33):
Gary, Gary Marshall used to say the way to stay safe and show business is to only hire your family.
Vicki Lawrence (28:39):
Yeah, yeah. Can Troublesome
Fritz Coleman (28:42):
Louise Palanker (28:42):
I'm not related to anyone in this room here with me. So I, I may be in trouble, but I I think we have to hear a Tim Conway story.
Vicki Lawrence (28:50):
Tim Conway story. Well, let's see where to begin. Um, let's see a good Tim Conway story. Well, we went down in 1972 to open the Sydney Opera House. I know the Queen thinks she opened it, but I, <laugh> ANet show was the very first show in there. So we flew all the way down there and if you've done it, you know, it's a, I mean, I don't know how it is now, but I mean, we stopped in Hawaii. We stopped in Fiji. Uh, it was a long, long trip. And Qantas would give you those, what's my line? Sleep masks, you know, <laugh>, so you could, they've been drool and privacy <laugh>. So we finally do Australia. And it's been a long trip. God knows. Not a peep out of anybody, I don't think. And as we hit the runway, this is 1972, mind you, uh, we hit the runway. Here comes Tim down the first class aisle. You know, he was a gymnast in college. So here he comes and he's rolling down like somersaulting down the first class aisle and he's careening into the right seat going ow and careening into the left side.
Fritz Coleman (30:07):
Oh my God.
Vicki Lawrence (30:09):
And he's all the way down the aisle. The little flight attendants are in their jump seats going, oh my
He gets to the front of the cabin, the plane screeches to a halt. He slams against the pilot door, he stands up, turns around faces all he is, got his sleep mask on like a bra.
Fritz Coleman (30:28):
Vicki Lawrence (30:29):
God. He looks at everybody as we screech to a halt. He says, wow. Rough landing and walks back to his seat. <laugh>
Speaker 5 (30:35):
Fritz Coleman (30:37):
Working with Harvey and Tim must have just been a show within a show for other people that work there.
Vicki Lawrence (30:42):
It was. We had a a a pool actually back in the green room. How many seconds into the sketch will Harvey lose it? And I mean, you could win big bucks with 13 seconds, you know, you never knew. You just never knew. But you knew it was gonna happen because Harvey was, uh, well, Tim used to say he had custody of Harvey
Louise Palanker (31:03):
I think that's probably correct. But you know, you, that must be the second number two on the, on your FAQs is, is how often do you lose it or how difficult was it not to lose it?
Vicki Lawrence (31:13):
You know, I really didn't too much Louise cuz I didn't really, it was a lot of years before I felt that I had earned, earned the right to sort of play in the sandbox with all these grownups. I mean, these were like the best comedians in the world and I just didn't feel like it was my place to be a little upstart.
Fritz Coleman (31:32):
That's so interesting. Or,
Vicki Lawrence (31:34):
Or to be breaking up. So you don't see a lot of that from me until mama comes along mm-hmm.
Louise Palanker (31:40):
<affirmative>. So I think yeah, I think you were probably hyper focused, therefore you didn't have the impulse to laugh because you were so focused on the task at hand.
Vicki Lawrence (31:50):
Yeah, that and just, I think out of respect for the people that I was learning from. I mean, it was a very special place to learn everything that I learned. And I look back at that time in our history, which was a lot of hippies, a lot of drugs, a lot of, I was raised in this lovely, nurturing, beautiful, perfect environment.
Fritz Coleman (32:10):
You come from Hollywood royalty. Your father worked for Max Factor Right. For years and years. Am I right about that?
Vicki Lawrence (32:16):
He he did. Yeah.
Fritz Coleman (32:17):
Well, and Max factor for, for people who weren't born in this century, was one of the, the, the powerhouses of, uh, makeup and, uh, beauty in Hollywood for many, many years.
Vicki Lawrence (32:27):
Yes. My science projects in high school are always how is, how is nail polish made and <laugh>, why is lipstick shiny? And you know, <laugh> Oh, in. And the teacher would go, here comes Vicki again. Hi.
Fritz Coleman (32:42):
Louise Palanker (32:44):
Oh, that's adorable. Um, alright. What El is there anything, any of the No. Is
Fritz Coleman (32:48):
I, I just wanna ask one more question about your show. Is this the start of a tour for you? Are you gonna, uh, you say you hadn't performed much during the pandemic. This was a, an opening night post pandemic. Are you gonna have a tour?
Vicki Lawrence (33:00):
Well, you know, for me the perfect work schedule is probably, uh, two weekends a month, maybe a couple of shows. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that's for me. So I don't, I don't think you'd call that a tour really <laugh>. Right. But I mean, I've been doing this for a lot of years now, so
Louise Palanker (33:14):
Yeah. Is everyone in the audience gonna be masked or are they have to show a card that says they they've tested that day? Or how do you, how are you gonna keep people safe?
Vicki Lawrence (33:23):
I don't know that, I do not know the answer to that. Not job.
Fritz Coleman (33:26):
I dunno what
Vicki Lawrence (33:27):
Job is they're at. Uh, the Agua
Louise Palanker (33:30):
Is Mama gonna have an opinion about masks?
Vicki Lawrence (33:33):
You know, I did for a little bit when I first started working after the shutdown. Uh, she came out in full gear with that shield on and the whole nine yards and
Fritz Coleman (33:43):
Oh, that's funny.
Vicki Lawrence (33:44):
Sprayed the whole audience down cuz good lord. Crazy people have, uh, but then I decided, I'm not sure I wanna remind anybody of this at all. I think maybe let's just laugh. So I don't know. We'll see. Well,
Fritz Coleman (33:58):
Thank you for, uh, many years of great laughter. I mean, some of the greatest, uh, moments on television, Carol Burnett and otherwise have been involving you. And so we were so happy to have a chance to talk with you today
Louise Palanker (34:09):
And tell people what else you'd like them to know. You have your website, where else can people follow you on social media? What should people know?
Vicki Lawrence (34:17):
Oh, well, I do a lot of Instagram. I'm not big on Twitter. You know, I feel like everybody gets in trouble on Twitter. Mm-hmm.
Fritz Coleman (34:23):
<affirmative> <laugh>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yep.
Vicki Lawrence (34:26):
I kind of steer clear. So, but I do love Instagram cuz I, and Joanie got me started on the Instagram threads because she said, come on, let's get with it. It's time to get with the social media thing. So she made me do it. All
Louise Palanker (34:39):
Right. And what's your handle on Instagram so we can find you there?
Vicki Lawrence (34:43):
Oh, it's Vicki Lawrence official.
Louise Palanker (34:45):
Ooh, okay. That's really good.
Fritz Coleman (34:47):
Well break a leg this week and, uh, I'm sure you're gonna entertain them and blow the roof off the place. Have fun.
Vicki Lawrence (34:53):
I'm gonna try. It'll be nice to laugh.
Louise Palanker (34:56):
It will be wonderful. It'll be explosive. You'll see. So enjoy, great to talk to you. Thank you so much for joining us.
Vicki Lawrence (35:02):
Thanks for having me. Good to see you. Bye.
Fritz Coleman (35:04):
Good to see you.
Louise Palanker (35:05):
Vicki Lawrence (35:06):
Louise Palanker (35:07):
Look who's here. Here comes your introduction. Karen Knotz. Are you ready? Karen Knotts is an actress and standup comedian who's one woman show tied up in Knots, pays highly entertaining tribute to her dad, Don Knotz, while filling us in on the realities of growing up with such a famously amusing father. Welcome, Karen.
Karen Knotts (35:24):
Louise Palanker (35:25):
Karen. Now your dad did not want you to go into show business, but how was he supposed to make what he did seem unfun to you? <laugh>
Karen Knotts (35:34):
Exactly. Thank you. <laugh> <laugh>. Oh, well, he was just always cutting up, but he changed his mind. I mean, he, a lot of people don't know this, but my dad had his own variety show in 1971, and by that time I was 16. And so my dad at the time was dating, um, a very beautiful actress named Elaine Joyce. And she was his co-star on the mo on the, uh, variety show. And she's sort of convincing him, you know, you should let Karen give her, give her a chance, you know. And so he decided to let me, um, be on his variety show. And the sketch that the writers came up with was based on reality, where I was telling I was gonna do this monologue and my dad was telling the audience, uh, <laugh>, oh, this is our chance, but she, yeah, this is, this is not gonna work out. So then I go and I do this great dramatic monologue and I got the applause and it was really sweet. It was like, you know, a, a little, it was sort of like a little Christmas moment in a way. It was really wonderful.
Fritz Coleman (36:37):
I I I, I loved your father. I, I always related to him because his nervous out place physicality is exactly how I felt inside to me. He was like Woody Allen or Woody Allen was like Don Knots on Prozac, <laugh>. You know, it was a more intellectual disturbance going on. And, but I, I just loved him. From the Steve Allen show, um, you, you describe your relationship with him and tied up in knots. Tell us about your book a little bit.
Karen Knotts (37:09):
Well, the book, it came out, um, just September 21st of this year. And it was, or I'm sorry, 2021. Um, and the book was, it took me a long time to write the book and everybody kept saying, you should write a book about your dad. And I would say, no, I'm an oi, not an oi <laugh>. But, um, I changed my mind at some point because, um, I realized that the, the people who all knew my dad were starting to pass away and that I didn't have much time left if I was gonna do it, I had to do it now. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> And I started doing inter, I started making interviews with people. And this was about 10 years ago, I went to his hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia. And I put the word out on radio that I was looking for people who knew him, who. And so I got about 30 people show up and they had great stories.
Mostly they were stories about their parents or their aunts and uncles, you know, these were the, my generation of people who had these great stories about my father. And I started to get a picture of what my dad's life was like as a young man, you know, as a teenager. I went to his high school where he always talked about high school being his turning point where he really came into his own and what a fun time he had cuz he had a rather tra a very, very difficult childhood. And then, but in high school, it all just sort of went away and he became who he was meant to be.
Louise Palanker (38:30):
Right. And you gave yourself this opportunity through this project to truly explore your father's childhood by, you know, with all the people because in Morgantown that, that's now the stuff of legend. So people have their stories and they've passed them on to generations, and you got to go down there and really investigate and see where he carved his name into the wall in the gymnasium and like really get closer to your dad through that whole process.
Karen Knotts (38:55):
Yeah, that's right. And there were just wonderful stories. Like one man talked about, um, how, uh, after the war, you know, and my father came, um, back to the high school or, and was performing, no, it was a little, a little space in the university, West Virginia University in the performance space. And he said, here comes the skinny young guy after, you know, after the guitar solo or whatever it was, here comes a skinny young guy and he, he puts a, uh, he puts a microphone up and he starts making a sound like he's in a movie theater and he starts making a sound like it, he's unwrapping a candy bar, making noises disturbing the people around him. And he, all of these things he was doing with his face were absolutely hysterical. And then he sits down and he pretends like somebody cut, let loose some gas nearby. So he is making these faces. And he said, the audience is just in stitches.
Louise Palanker (39:47):
Well, he had this, this talent and he must have known even as a little kid because he would act out a whole baseball game. Right. And he must have seen the reaction in people and know that, all right, I think I might be good at this kind of thing.
Karen Knotts (40:01):
Well, he, um, his older brother's Shadow was the comedian of the family and, you know, he had three much older brothers and they had this father who was a, a mental case, a really sad, paranoid, schizophrenic mental case. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so they were always looking for humor to escape them from the tragedy of that, and from their, their very, very impoverished situation. And they lived in a, you know, a house and his mother ran this boarding house. And so Shadow was the nickname of this older brother because he was so skinny, he didn't have one. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, um, shadow was the cut up until my dad was trying to learn from Shadow, because even though my dad had this incredibly natural comedic talent, he, he wa I feel like he wasn't in control of it. Ah, he was getting laughs so people were laughing at him. Okay. You know, because they could provoke him into being angry or frustrated or whatever and or terrified. And so they were laughing at him, not with him. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So through Shadow he had to learn how to turn that around mm-hmm. <affirmative> and make him make That's very interesting. Him in control of the laughs. Wow.
Fritz Coleman (41:09):
Well, uh, I, I, I think in the top five television shows in the pantheon of television, the Andy Griffith show is one of the top two Lucia Ball in the Andy Griffith Show. And as I was explaining to you offline, my good friend Bruce Bilson started his television directing career as an ad on the Andy Griffith Show. And I would ride bikes with him until he was 90 years old and he had the best anecdotes about, first of all, how much he loved doing that show. But I don't think America understands the impact it had. And I want you to talk about your experience in what are called Mount Airy days for years. People sort of go on this exodus to North Carolina Yeah. To Mount Airy Days, which celebrates the Andy Griffith phenomenon. There are parades and lectures and all kinds of activities and they do it every year. Tell us about that.
Karen Knotts (41:59):
Well, it's actually known as Mayberry Days.
Fritz Coleman (42:01):
Karen Knotts (42:02):
Takes place in Mount Airy though. I see. Which is, which was Andy Griffiths hometown. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so a lot of Mayberry was, was, um, taken off of that town, you know, all the little places. Snappy Lunch and Floyd's Barbershop, they were named after those places there. And so a woman named Tanya Jones started this festival in the nineties and it started small and it has grown to this unbelievable number. Like 50,000 people showed up there one year when they had their 10 year anniversary <laugh>, literally 50,000 people. I mean, I think it's, you know, if people keep on watching the show because it's so rare and such an unusual show that you can't find anything like it on tv now
Fritz Coleman (42:46):
There's such humanity in it. I think it's probably more important to the American psyche now than it was when it was originally broadcast.
Karen Knotts (42:53):
I think so too, because now the show's focused on it's, they don't have that home quality that mm-hmm. <affirmative> that, that earthiness, that val values that the show had. And that's the reason why it's lived on so long.
Fritz Coleman (43:08):
And so you, you would go down and sign autographs and answer people's questions and talk about the, cuz the fans are rabid, they know the minutia of your dad's life and everything.
Karen Knotts (43:17):
Yeah. They know more about the show than I do <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, but I have my own show that I do tied up in Knots, as you mentioned, and I also do other different kinds of shows. And then they have the Colonel Tims, which is named after, you know, that, uh, thing on the show where they had that, um, the Amateur Contest, and they have the Colonel Tims and so all the performers where there are many of us that perform at Mayberry days, we get out there and we do sketches and we do, you know, whatever funny little talent that we wanna display. And the audience is just crazy about that show.
Louise Palanker (43:49):
Well, I think what happens is that, you know, as we move through time, we see the importance of a show based on how it's making us feel at the, when it's first airing, it's like, oh, is it funny, blah, blah, as time goes on, it's really about how it makes you feel. And so
Fritz Coleman (44:05):
It feels safe now,
Louise Palanker (44:06):
Which is, yeah. So the reason that me TV just shows it back to back to back all afternoon, is that if you just turn it, if you're having a stressful moment and you turn it on, it just makes you feel calm, I
Karen Knotts (44:17):
Think. Yeah. There are people that watch it all day long. <laugh>. Yeah. Literally they watch it all day ev or every day, every night when they're sleeping. It's such comfort.
Louise Palanker (44:27):
Mm-hmm. <affirmative> comfort. That's a good word. Yeah.
Fritz Coleman (44:29):
It was, uh, he, he was an interesting, interesting character. Well, you're, you're very talented. You have a one person show and you've got to perform that show at the Edinboro Fringe Festival, a very prestigious art festival in Scotland. Standups perform there. It's like, uh, you know, next to the Montreal Comedy Festival. It's the place you want to have your talent shown. Talk about that experience.
Karen Knotts (44:51):
Oh gosh, that's, I'm so glad you brought that up. Nobody's ever mentioned that before, but that was actually at the very beginning of my, of my development of that show. And, uh, I, I was very nervous because I didn't, I I just didn't have confidence in the show at that point. And so some woman, um, Inez, what's her name, she said, you need to go to Edinburgh and I wanna produce your show. And I said, oh, okay. So, but what happened was when I went over there to Scotland, you know, nobody over there know, knew who Don Knots was.
Fritz Coleman (45:24):
Oh, wow. <laugh>
Karen Knotts (45:26):
And in fact, I heard people talking out in the lobby. This is a show about donuts
Louise Palanker (45:31):
<laugh> so nuts, <laugh>.
Fritz Coleman (45:34):
Oh, I, I I didn't, I didn't ask that question. E even understanding that it might have been a dark experience for you, that's like a bucket list performance for most comedians. So it was not, not what you wanted it to be. Well,
Karen Knotts (45:44):
No, it's fine that you asked because it was actually was a great experience for me because what happened was it, it's forced me to find out whether the show could stand on its own without people just being such fans of Don Knox mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so it gave me the confidence of that. I had, you know, I had a lot of other material in the show. I had characters in the show, I had bits, I did a little magic, and I still did a little magic in my show. And I found that people were still interested in the stories. So that was a great character builder for me.
Louise Palanker (46:16):
Oh yeah. That's just does a, does the story standalone. I love that. So, um, you got to interview a lot of famous folks who were touched and influenced by your father's work in, in making and making your book and p and maybe even talk about it in, in your one woman show. Talk about who you interviewed and, uh, who availed themselves to you to tell what Don Knotz meant to them.
Karen Knotts (46:36):
Okay. Well, um, Kat Williams, who is a black standup comedian, one of my favorites mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he's, um, he's a huge Don Knots fan. I got to talk to him. Jim Carey is a tremendous, uh, oh yeah. Don Knots fan. And when Jim, um, got on the phone with me, he was so excited to talk about my dad that he would not stop talking <laugh>. And I had these questions that I needed to get answers from him, and I finally said, can I ask a question, <laugh>?
Fritz Coleman (47:06):
Yeah. He does your dad really well?
Karen Knotts (47:08):
Yeah. Yeah, he does. And yeah, there's a story about him in the where, um, uh, Ron Howard was directing Jim and how the Grinch stole Christmas, and Jim had to wear, uh, this makeup. He was in the makeup chair for four hours as the Grinch, and he was getting very depressed because of that. So Ron called dad and asked, would you come down to the set? And Sure. Up Jim, you know. So Jim's up there on the top of Grinch Mountain, he looks down and sees my dad standing there. Oh. And he launches into this full on impression of Barney Fife while wearing the Grinch costume.
Fritz Coleman (47:41):
<laugh>. That's hysterical.
Karen Knotts (47:42):
And Ron said later, if only I had kept the camera rolling, <laugh>. Oh,
Louise Palanker (47:46):
Wow. Wow. But talk about the time on, you are the same age as, as Ron Howard, and I love how you kind of bravely initiated a conversation with a ano a 10 year old boy during that awkward time of our childhoods where girls don't really talk to boys, boys don't really talk to girls, but you made it happen. Tell that story. Yeah.
Karen Knotts (48:06):
Well, um, you know, I I I I just remember that he was holding this little gadget in his hand, and it was a little tiny for, for that day. A tiny transistor radio was gold. And in those days we just had clock radios. Yeah. <laugh>. I didn't remember it. You know, maybe there were transistors, but if they were, they were big and he was holding this, his hand down was fascinated. I said, what's that? And he told me what it was, and he was showing me and talking about that. And I thought, wow, this kid is not like any other kid. <laugh>, he's serious. You know, <laugh>. Yeah. And he, he's, he had this gravy toss about him, even though he was a kid my same age. Wow. And then, but then he walked around and he showed me some things on the set. That one big thing about that, uh, behind the scenes of the Andy Griffiths show was there were a lot of primes being played all the time. It was kind of the, all these, these people came up from an era where practical jokes were popular because of the depression. Mm. And they had to, you know, they played jokes on each other as a way to relieve the tension and the, and the fears that they had. And so that stayed up with them. And so they played a lot of prac pranks on each other.
Fritz Coleman (49:15):
They had a great relationship, he had a great relationship with, with Andy. W was there, was that true to people's perception? It seems so fatherly and it was a perfect relationship between father and Son, which was the most touching part of the show.
Karen Knotts (49:27):
I think that was probably true. I, I can't validate that, but I, I have a feeling that it was true because I've seen pictures of them backstage, you know, off camera, and it looked like they still had that, that warmth between them.
Louise Palanker (49:39):
I let, when you were talking about no time for Sergeant and I, I think it's a really important story because your, your dad kind of made this role happen for himself by being aware of what was going on and then placing a call to Andy and saying, Hey, is there a part for me in this? And I think that's, that's really good advice for people just making their way in any careers to sort of take advantage of relationships that are intact and then finding out, maybe you can do it through LinkedIn or other ways that people find out someone's starting something. You know what, email make a call because look at, look at the trajectory of Don Nazi's life based on that call. He plays to Andy Griffith. Tell that story.
Karen Knotts (50:21):
Well, um, after no time for Sergeants, they went their separate ways. My dad stayed in New York and did, as you mentioned, it's the nervous guy. And, and that's where the beginning of his fame started was on that, uh, the Tonight Show with Steve Allen was like the first one of the early incarnations of, you know, the sketch comedy phenomenon. And so he had this nervous guy character, but Andy had been offered to do the role, uh, in a face in the crowd. So Andy went to Los Angeles and they lost touch for a while. And then the Steve Allen show moved out to Los Angeles along with a lot of the other shows of the era. Um, there was a big exodus from New York to la. And so then, um, at, after a while, the Steve Allen show ended and my dad was over at Pat Harrington Jr's house who had been regular on the Steve Allen show with dad.
And they were outta work now. So they were flipping around the channels and they ended up watching the Danny Thomas show while all of a sudden Andy Griffith appears on the Danny Thomas show wearing the she's outfit. And, um, and, and Pat went, oh, oh, I read about this. Andy got a pilot and as a small town sheriff, and so they decided to try this out on the, on the Danny Thomas show, see what people's reactions would be. And my dad was like, Andy is a pilot. Oh my gosh. So he got him on the phone and immediately said, do you think Sheriff Taylor to have a Deputy
Fritz Coleman (51:48):
<laugh>? That's great.
Louise Palanker (51:49):
Wow. <laugh> such an important question. Look what it leads to.
Karen Knotts (51:54):
Well, and Andy thought that dad was still on the Steve Allen show at the time. That's why you didn't even
Louise Palanker (52:00):
Think of it. That's why I just, I just wanna say, it's always okay to reach out. You know, you have to read the room, but it's always okay to reach out and say, Hey, because you, you, you may not be at the top of their, their mind in that moment, but, you know, place the thought there. Let them go 24 hours and think about, I, I love working with her. I love working with him. And you know, you, you never know where it's gonna lead.
Fritz Coleman (52:21):
Did Andy and, and, and all the cast members socialize. I love those stories. You know, Tim and Harvey socialized in, uh, in, in, uh, back in the Carol Burnett show. I just wonder if they were social outside the work environment.
Karen Knotts (52:34):
Um, well, my dad and Andy were close friends and they talked, they talked to, to each other all the way to the end of their days. But the Andy Griffith show was, they worked such long hours on that show, they didn't really have much time to socialize. So it was all done on the set, whatever socializing was mostly down there. But my dad did socialize with Tim Conway quite a bit. Mm-hmm.
Fritz Coleman (52:54):
<affirmative> those two together would've been two months to watch.
Louise Palanker (52:56):
Yeah. He's the thread for this show. Yeah.
Karen Knotts (52:59):
Yeah. Yeah. And, and Tim, Tim was such a, a hilarious. My dad was very shy and Tim was not <laugh>. Uh, and Tim would just improvise. They had these Christmas parties ev every year at Tim's house, and dad would go, and I was, I would go sometimes. And it was just amazing that Tim would just, just improvise and entertain everybody. And my dad would just sit there and laugh at Tim and just be amazed. And it was really interesting to me that when, when Tim and Dad started making movies together, my dad actually became straight man for Tim Conway.
Louise Palanker (53:31):
Wow. Wow. Yeah. That's a challenge. <laugh>,
Fritz Coleman (53:34):
You, you're Karen, also a playwright. Tell us about Roger and Betsy.
Karen Knotts (53:40):
Well, um, I wrote, um, that was actually a short film. Oh, a short, I mean, a short play, which is gonna become a film. Oh. And, um, yeah, I've written a few plays. I wrote a play, a fart called, but We Open Tonight, which is, um, which is based on the characters of Talulah Bankhead and, uh, John Barry Moore. And it's sort, sort of fictitious, you know, situation where they all end up right in this
Fritz Coleman (54:05):
Space. Dates from Hell, the musical. I love that
Karen Knotts (54:08):
<laugh>. That's a great thing. Yeah. What a musical
Louise Palanker (54:10):
<laugh> the musical. Wow. So before we close, what can you tell us about, you know, not all of us get a chance to, so, you know, deeply research our own parents. What have you learned about your dad along the way through all this?
Karen Knotts (54:24):
Well, um, I think, uh, I, I didn't really learn much that I didn't already know, but I learned, I learned just little brief insights into him that, um, just from interviewing the people, so I would say interview people who knew your par know your parents or knew your parents. Even if you're not, don't have a famous parent. You always know that. This funny thing is that when I started interviewing people and then I, I started kind of running out of people and I thought, wait a minute. My dad had conversations with my own friends. That's right. And so I started interviewing my friends and they told me the best stories of all
Fritz Coleman (55:00):
<laugh>. You know, I did a one person show at the beginning of my career, which is about that exact topic. It was called, it's Me Dad. And the inciting incident was, I went to my father's funeral and listened to the testimony of all these people I didn't know that told these wonderful, some wonderful, some not so wonderful stories about my father. And I was, I had, I was very conflicted about it. I was happy to hear them talk about it, but I was also, I felt like an outsider that didn't know as much about my dad as I should have. So I said I would never allow that to happen to my children. And I had two sons at the time. So I went home and I said, here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna take a legal pad, I'm gonna write everything about my life, and I'm going to set up a camera in my den and I'm going to talk to the camera and tell my children all the good and the bad divorce and alcoholism and all kinds of stuff, and I'm gonna put it in a safe deposit box. They were like eight and six at the time. And when they're old enough, they can watch this bit. They'll know everything about me. There'll be no surprises. They've
Louise Palanker (55:59):
Never watched. They have no interest.
Fritz Coleman (56:01):
Yeah. They, yeah. <laugh>. No, that
Karen Knotts (56:02):
Fritz Coleman (56:03):
Well, what happened was I began to share my idea with my friends and said, you gotta put that on the stage. People will relate to that so much so, and I did that show, public Television bought it, and they aired it on Father's Day, seven years in a row. Uh, and it was just about my relationship with Sons and being honest with your sons. And Wheezy was involved in that as well. So, I mean, I, that whole, um, uh, that whole, uh, desire to know about your father and the surprise and conflict of not knowing everything that you wish to do, sort of the same. That
Karen Knotts (56:33):
Is wonderful. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Fred, that is amazing that you did that.
Louise Palanker (56:37):
Yeah, it's a great piece of work. And that was his first one man play. He's done several since then. He's just, he's, you know, when you go beyond stand up into, you know, a performance piece, it's a, it's a whole different level. You have to make people laugh and cry. Right, Karen?
Karen Knotts (56:51):
Yeah. Well, I wanna see your show.
Fritz Coleman (56:53):
I have a vhs, but nobody has a VHS machine. But I'll send you a copy if you, anybody can make a transfer,
Louise Palanker (56:58):
I can digitize that for you
Fritz Coleman (57:00):
First. Oh, you, okay, good. Yeah, the only thing about one man shows is that cast parties are really boring. <laugh>,
Karen Knotts (57:05):
<laugh>, you just end up talking to yourself quite a bit. There you
Fritz Coleman (57:09):
Louise Palanker (57:09):
<laugh>. Well, we have just really enjoyed, uh, speaking with you. Let us know how people can find you online,
Karen Knotts (57:15):
Karen, not.com. It's not simple.
Fritz Coleman (57:18):
Are you in the midst of a tour? Gonna start its tour, you're gonna take it up, be more active on the road now that the pandemic is winding down?
Karen Knotts (57:24):
Well, the Pan, the, uh, shows are a little bit slow coming back, but I have performed three shows in West Virginia. And then I have one booked in July, July 29th. And then I have four or five shows booked in October. So if you just, which is good. Yeah, just go to that page and I will start updating that page. Cause I don't have all the new bookings on there yet, but I'm gonna update
Fritz Coleman (57:43):
That. Will you do anything local?
Karen Knotts (57:45):
Uh, LA being local, I'll eventually I'll, I don't have anything right now, but I have a new show that I'm starting, it's called Knots So Fast, what I'm doing with a partner Rick Roberts, who is a very funny standup comedian, and he also does a Barney Five impression. Oh, great. So we're gonna be doing sketches and improv and music and a lot of fun stuff
Fritz Coleman (58:07):
To, uh, could you build that into a show and take it on the road as well?
Karen Knotts (58:09):
Yeah, we're gonna, we have our opening, our debut is going to be, uh, August, um, yeah, August 29th, I think it is. In DeHart, Texas.
Louise Palanker (58:19):
All right. Excellent.
Fritz Coleman (58:20):
Good for you.
Louise Palanker (58:21):
All right, well here come your closing credits. Thank you so much for joining us. We would love to continue this conversation with you on Instagram and Twitter, where we are at Media Path Pod and on Facebook where our show page is, media Path Podcast. And our Facebook group is Media Path with Fritz and Weezy podcast community. You can find full video podcast episodes loaded with bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. You can write to us at media path podcast gmail.com. If you enjoy the show, please give us a nice rating in Apple Podcast and talk about us on social media. Then post another cute pick of your doggy. We know he's just the cutest. You can sign up for our Fun and Dishy email@example.com. And we wanna thank our guest, Kara Knots and Vicki Lawrence. Our team includes Dena Friedman, John Maddox, Sharon Beo, bill Filip, Thomas Hubble, Mason Brown, and you. Our theme music is by me and John Maddox. I am Luis Lanker here with Fritz Coleman, and we will see you along the media path.
Fritz Coleman (59:21):
You have such a beautiful personality. You have just such,
Louise Palanker (59:24):
She's just sun.