Vicki Lawrence Breaks Down The Hilarious Elephant Story From The Carol Burnett Show

Headed by Carol Burnett and an ensemble cast of Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway, and Harvey Korman, "The Carol Burnett Show" changed the game of comedy. It was female-led, joyous, and incredibly funny, all of which made it one of the best sketch comedy TV shows of all time.

Part of what made "The Carol Burnett Show" so memorable was the cast's ability to make each other laugh. After dress rehearsals, the cast would often improv a scene during the live show that caught both the actors and the audiences off-guard. Tim Conway often led the charge in trying to get his fellow castmates to break character and laugh.

One of the show's best moments occurred during a blooper of the scene when Burnett, Conway, Lawrence and new cast member Dick Van Dyke play a game of password. Conway tells the others a story about meeting conjoined elephants at the circus. Everyone loses it in particular when he does an impression of the sound that two elephants with conjoined trunks make.

When Burnett tries to get the sketch back on track and asks Lawrence's character Mama what she has to say, Lawrence breaks the fourth wall and deadpans, "Are you sure that little a****** is finished?" The entire cast becomes unhinged and falls to the floor laughing in a moment that many — like Vanity Fair and The Wrap – have declared to be one of the best of the show. It's easy to see why since nearly 50 years after the blooper aired in 1977, it's still a laugh riot.

Vicki Lawrence finally came after troublemaker Tim Conway in the scene

When speaking with FoundationInterviews, Vicki Lawrence documented how the hilarious "Elephant Story" blooper on "The Carol Burnett Show" came to be. After the dress rehearsal, Carol Burnett took Lawrence aside and asked her to keep it together during the scene. She did not want the cast to break the fourth wall in the sketch because she felt strongly about the characters.

Lawrence agreed but later, the director told her that Tim Conway was going to change up his elephant story and he wished her luck in getting through it. Lawrence vented to Al Schultz, her makeup artist and husband, about Conway always getting to go off the rails. Schultz simply told her, "get him," as a way to handle the situation.

When it came to the scene, Burnett — who was the one who demanded that Lawrence and the rest keep it together — was the first to break character. She was crying and laughing, as she tried to get Lawrence to say her line. So, Lawrence decided to "get him" and said the thing that made this one of Dick Clark's favorite bloopers of all time.

The cast came unglued and even the camera people were shaking with laughter. Lawrence remembered that it was the first time she really cut loose on the show because prior to that, "I just didn't feel like I had really earned the privilege to do that so ... I would keep it together because I didn't feel it was my place." She continued, "It was really the first time that [her character] Mama spoke out, I believe, and it unleashed a monster."