Leachman a scene-stealer in 'Hope'

Cloris Leachman in "Raising Hope."

Cloris Leachman in "Raising Hope."

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:45 PM ET

Age affects us all in different ways. In the case of Cloris Leachman, it's turned a great entertainer into one of the world's best audiences.

That is to say, make her laugh, and she laughs -- a lot, as if you've told the funniest joke in history.

The problem is her phrenic nerve, a diaphragm-connected bit of anatomy that is also the culprit behind hiccups.

"My son is my manager. And I laugh so much with him, my phrenic nerve kicks in. And once it kicks in I just keep laughing," says the 86-year-old scene-stealer, who plays the dementia-stricken Maw Maw on the dark sitcom Raising Hope.

Over the phone from L.A., Leachman admits she's always had a tendency to laugh on-set, which goes with the territory when you've made classic television (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Phyllis) and three movies with Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety and History Of The World, Part I).


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