Until recently, Tomlin played Reba McEntire's mother, Lillie Mae, on "Malibu Country," but the show was discontinued. She is now Putsy Hodge, Lisa Kudrow's mother, on ShowTime's "Web Therapy" and is working with her partner Jane Wagner on a new play that they hope to enact in New York.
Looking back on a prolific career, Tomlin falters when recounting memorable experiences — there have been too many, she said.
One that springs to mind is a Broadway show that several blind people, and their guide dogs, attended. Her act was interrupted midway by the dogs who all of a sudden began howling in unison.
"The audience laughed as long and as hard as I did," she said. "I swear they sensed (maybe smelled) my own dog offstage in the dressing room."
Her last performance at Segerstrom was also marked by a change of pants onstage, followed by her waving to the audience from inside each leg's pocket hem.
No matter the role, Tomlin's foremost priority is to stay "alive" in the moment, which ensures genuineness in her artistry and builds a rapport with the audience.
"It's like a good marriage," she said.
If You Go
What: An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin
Where: Segerstrom Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Cost: $39 onward
Information: http://www.SCFTA.org or (714) 556-2787