(Video link HERE.) After a reader mentioned an episode of the Carole Burnett show riffing on The Princess and the Pea (a reference to our inability to sleep no matter what fix we do to the myseriously vibrating bed) we went hunting for it.

We never found it* but stumbled on this extraordinary bit from “The Funeral”. Robin Williams pays his respects to the uptight, grieving widow of a man he used to sit with in his commute to work. He’s an irritating, lonely, rather presumptuous but well-meaning guy who Burnett tries hard to get rid off, finally yelling at him in anger to leave. The two minutes or so that follow are stunning, in their beauty, humanity, transformation and hilarity.

“But I just don’t know if I could. I’ve just never done anything like that, let it out like that.”

“You have to let it out.”

“Will you help me?”

“I will.”


You can watch the entire episode here.

*The Princess and the Pea wasn’t an episode of the Carole Burnett show, but rather, a play called Once Upon a Mattress. According to Cara de Silva

When it opened as a play in 1959, it starred Carol Burnett as the princess who has to sleep on twenty mattresses on top of the tiniest pea in order to pass the test that allows her to marry the prince. 
When it was made into a movie in 2005, it starred Tracy Ullman as the princess and Carol Burnett as the queen. You can watch it in segments on YouTube; 8 and 9 are the mattress portions: 


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3 replies on “Robin Williams Helps Carole Burnett Express Herself

  1. Perhaps your reader was thinking of the play “Once Upon A Mattress”. It was based on “The Princess and the Pea” and Carol Burnett starred as Princess Winifred.

  2. I do not mean to be an oonch, and I suspect Ms. Silva is probably a lot younger than I, but it was most definitely an episode of the Carole Burnett show, before any movie. And I saw it much earlier than when the movie was produced, like decades earlier (lol). Really. The reason it was so hilarious is because Carole portayed a princess who the Queen wanted to ensure was gentile enough to marry her prince son. So, she felt that the pea under the twenty or so mattresses would proove that. I guess as the skit goes, someone allied with Carole discovered this and suspected she would fail so there were layers of “junk” placed under the mattresses – suits of armour, andirons, etc. – to guarantee Carole would have a fitfull night and therefore pass the test. Anyway, she kept tossing and turning and pulling these large chunks of uncomfortable things out from under the mattress. It was hilarious as anything she does is. I wish I could do it justice with my description – it fails me to do so. But now I will be on the hunt as well for that episode. I will share when I find it.

  3. Maris, I had NO doubt that there was a Carole Burnett episode. It SO sounds like her. But it’s quite likely that all her work isn’t online. I really appreciate your detailed description, which is hilarious, and curuiosly resonates with my situation, as I gradually deconstructed my bed, often half awake in the middle of the night. Thanks a million.

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