On last night’s Conan, Carol Burnett told O’Brien all about what it was like as a comedian who also happened to be a woman “back in the covered wagon days” and her dream of starring in her very own variety show. Notably, she ran into some pushback from CBS before the start of The Carol Burnett Show despite having a contract that basically guaranteed its existence. “When I said ‘I want to do that show,’ they said ‘Well Carol, you know, comedy/variety is a man’s game. It’s Jackie Gleason, it’s Sid Caesar, now there’s Dean Martin.’ The vice president that I was talking to said ‘You know, Carol, it’s not for you gals,’” Burnett tells O’Brien. “I think what’s amazing in the climate we’re in now — and this is the way things should be — if someone said ‘No, comedy is not for you gals,’ I mean, that would be a $100 billion lawsuit just him saying that,” O’Brien says. It’s all a very important lesson about two very important things: comedy pioneers like Burnett and rock-solid contracts.
Check out some more clips from the interview below, including one where Burnett reflects on why staying away from politics helped make the sketches in her show timeless: