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Lily Tomlin coming back to town

Lily Tomlin will return to Springfield in 2014, bringing with her a cranky telephone operator, a raspberry-blowing 5½-year-old, a bag lady and maybe even a hang-gliding quadriplegic.

The famed comedian — who portrays all those characters and then some — will be making her first appearance at Kuss Auditorium in a decade with a show at 8 p.m. March 8, the Clark State Performing Arts Center and the Springfield Arts Council have announced.

“She’s a legend, and we need to have some of those occasionally,” Stuart Secttor, executive director of the performing arts center, said this week. “And she’s funny as heck.”

Tickets, priced from $39 to $70, will go on sale in person at 10 a.m. Nov. 20, then online at noon that day at For phone orders, call 937-328-3874.

Tomlin last appeared in Springfield in 2003, and the performing arts center recently was contacted by her representatives about coming back.

“There are a number of artists who want to work,” Secttor said.

With the center celebrating its 20th anniversary, Secttor thought it could be an ideal opportunity to co-present a show with the arts council, who originally brought Tomlin to town.

“She’s probably the biggest-name comedian I’ve had,” Secttor said.

That’s saying something, too, considering Secttor also has presented Bob Newhart here.

Like Newhart, Tomlin is among an elite cadre of influential comics who’ve been presented with the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Other recipients have included the likes of Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Steve Martin, Bill Cosby, Carl Reiner and Springfield’s own Jonathan Winters.

Now 74, Tomlin is a product of TV’s “Laugh-In,” and has been in her share of movies, notably “9 to 5.”

In 1971, her album, “This is a Recording,” won the Grammy for best comedy record.

Her onstage persona as phone operator Ernestine still rings true in the age of wireless communication, especially when she says, “We don’t care, we don’t have to — we’re the phone company.”

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