July 20, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

We admit it: We love Mama from ”Mama’s Family”

Declare your undying love for ”Mama’s Family” reruns at a dinner party — or anywhere, for that matter — and you’ll be kicked to the curb faster than you can scream ”VINTON!!!” So consider this, all ye Mama haters: 30 years after she created Thelma ”Mama” Harper for ”The Carol Burnett Show,” Vicki Lawrence still travels the casino circuit portraying the brash, beer-drinking hausfrau in a one-woman show. In Lawrence’s deft hands, Mama is both begirdled nightmare and bewigged provider, stomping around in frumpy Jo-Ann Stores housedresses as she delivers decibel-shattering insults to any friend or neighbor at close range. But she’s not without heart: Mama remains a fierce defender of her nincompoop-infested family, and when she’s forced to reveal her true feelings, the lips quiver, the voice cracks, and the dollops of down-home wisdom come spilling forth. Now, good Lord, pick up your damn room before she breaks out the paddle!

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