From television to movies, comedy albums and Broadway stage shows, Lily Tomlin has done it all.
Yet she still returns to her roots as a stand-up comedian in roughly 50 solo comedy shows annually, a tour that stops Wednesday, Feb. 5 at the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach.
"It's really still like when I started doing shows as a kid in my neighborhood," Tomlin said in a phone interview from her home in Los Angeles. "That was really like doing stand-up on your back porch. You're wanting to communicate with an audience."
For Tomlin, 74, a stand-up career led to a role in 1969 on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," a wacky, counter-culture-friendly TV variety series. It was a forum for Tomlin to introduce characters such as nosy telephone operator Ernestine and precocious, raspberry-spitting child Edith Ann, figures that became fixtures in her act.
From comedy, Tomlin successfully jumped into movie roles, scoring an Oscar nomination for her supporting part in Robert Altman's "Nashville" (1975) and earning praise for "Nine to Five" (1980), "The Incredible Shrinking Woman" (1981), "All of Me" (1984) and "I ♥ Huckabees" (2004) and other films.
On TV, she did stints on such popular prime-time shows as "Murphy Brown," "Will & Grace," "The West Wing" and "Desperate Housewives." Now, she's preparing to return for her fourth season on Showtime's "Web Therapy," a show she calls "one of my favorite things I've ever done."
"It's largely improv and my character is just the worst," Tomlin said of her part in the series about a therapist (Lisa Kudrow) who works with patients on the Internet. "Very narcissistic."
After a career that has yielded Grammy, Emmy and Tony awards, Tomlin still finds satisfaction in working alone on the stage.
"I'm much more accepting of the audience now," Tomlin said. "When you're a young artist, you're so filled up with yourself, what you're doing and how it's going to affect the world. You want them [the audience] to get it the way you want them to get it, but there's a diverse range of reactions every time. They won't all laugh in the same place."
Tomlin also works to keep Ernestine, Edith Ann and other signature characters from becoming trite.
"You have to keep the characters relevant by doing something that's either so layered that it's not like a punch line, or by dealing with issues or social things that are current," she said. "It's not like being in a band, where they can play those songs forever. I talk about humans sharing the planet really as much as I can, in a stringent and a tender way."
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What: In comedy performance
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5
Where: Peabody Auditorium, 600 Auditorium Blvd., Daytona Beach