Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin connects with her audiences. Well, usually. She workshopped an unvarnished version of her (and her longtime partner Jane Wagner’s) subsequently Tony Award-winning show The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe at the Rep in 1985. Today, by phone, she remembers that, “You could hear diamond bracelets hit the bleachers as subscribers nodded off.” Obviously, she got funnier, elevating the genre of one-woman shows well beyond one-person concerns. “I don’t want to get high-minded about it, but I am interested in whatever it is that unifies us as a species,” she says. “It’s an affectionate thing—wanting to validate the species without glossing over what’s awful about us.” The always deft and dazzling Tomlin returns to Seattle with The Best of Lily Tomlin, which includes her stable of favorite characters to embody. Most famous among them is the “one ringy-dingy” telephone operator Ernestine, created back in the 1960s when, Tomlin explains, “the phone company was just hated by people. Everybody dealt with operators in those days. And AT&T was politically suspect. The subscriber was at their mercy.” What’s that saying about how the more things change…? Trust Tomlin to know what’s funny about that. STEVE WIECKING

Sat., Jan. 29, 8 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 30, 3 p.m., 2011

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