In the midst of a political race that resembles Black Friday at Walmart, its nice to see the right people being rewarded for doing the right things.
As I've stated many times before, I was never one to follow the subscribed path in choosing role models. When I was young, my parents just told me to find the people embodied the qualities you wanted to attain in life. So, as a result, most of my idols are post-menopausal funny women.
From Phyllis Diller to Joan Rivers to Catherine O'Hara, I have always prized the substance of a person without immediately judging them on their outward appearance. My therapist said that the reason I was drawn to older women as role models is because I can see true inner beauty and find people who live for their art, intellect, and love. Of course it should be of no surprise that one of the people I adore most of all is hilarious, but with a heart of gold.
She is Lily Tomlin.
The first time I became consciously aware of her was in high school. I went to the library and, on a diet of Robin Williams, Lewis Black, and other angry white men, I was looking for a change. I was browsing in the comedy CDs when, all of a sudden, I stopped in my tracks.
Seeing the cover alone made me fall in love, without hearing a word. I took it home, devoured it at least twenty times, and was hooked for life. Here was comedy that didn't involve blue language, poop jokes, or gratuitously sexual references (not that those aren't valid forms of comedy to some people.) The humor was imbued with light innuendo, driven by character, and quick to ride into the punchline.
Whether scrunching up her face as Ernestine the telephone operator and clucking "One ringy-dingy!" or toddling alone as the little brat Edith Ann, Tomlin's comedy was, and still is, culturally relevant and funny as hell.
And now, thankfully, she'll be getting Screen Actor's Guild Lifetime Achievement Award on January 29, 2017. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris announced the award using glowing superlatives:
“Lily Tomlin is an extraordinary actress, as equally adept at narrative drama as in comedy roles. But it is through her many original characters that Lily’s creative genius fully shines... She has an ability to create diverse and distinct characters that are at once familiar, eccentric and oh so honest – in a way that illuminates life’s hidden corners. From Edith Ann to Frankie, her characters are wholly unique, and by exposing every nuance of human behavior they widen our scope of understanding. On behalf of nearly 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members, we are honored to bestow our SAG Life Achievement Award on the truly amazing Lily Tomlin.”
Tomlin, who will be 77 come September, has run the gamut from variety actress in Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, to stand-up comic, to Emmy, Tony, and Grammy-winning artist, to humanitarian and social activist with her wife Jane Wagner. Wagner and Tomlin have been partners since 1971 and married in 2013. They have tirelessly campaigned for the rights of the LGBTQ community with zest and intelligence.
In this time of turbulence, anger, and frustration, it is a refreshing sight to see someone lauded who deserves praise. Between self-congratulatory politicians winning humanitarian awards and drunk, talent-less starlets getting Oscars, it is inspiring to see someone who has lived their life to their own standard and fought for what was right. I am in awe, and have been since that first listen, of Tomlin's comedic genius, warm heart, and incredible versatility.
So, along with me, I'd like us all to give a big "Brava!" to Lily by commenting on this blog and sharing our favorite Tomlin moment! I can't wait to hear what you come up with.
Don't forget that if you enjoy From the Ego of Steven, you can get each new article sent to your email upon publication!
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.