Small Funny Things: The Subversive Gift of Tim Conway

Christ and Pop Culture | 5/15/2019 | Gina Dalfonzo
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The moment that word of comedian Tim Conway’s death at age 85 got out, social media filled up with fond reminiscences of his best sketches from The Carol Burnett Show: The dentist. The elephant story. The Oldest Man. Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins.

Such remembrances are standard fare when a beloved celebrity dies. But Tim Conway inspired a unique variation on them. People didn’t just remember Conway on his own; they remembered him in tandem with other people. That time he made Carol Burnett laugh. That time he made Lyle Waggoner laugh. All the times—so many, many times—he completely paralyzed Harvey Korman with laughter.

Fun - Set - Actors - Conway - Benefit

By having fun on the set and helping his fellow actors have fun too, Conway was helping them remember and receive the benefit of what they were giving to others.Conway cracking up his Burnett Show castmates is still one of the things people tend to remember best about a show that was already funny to begin with. The writing and the acting were consistently strong, but Conway injected a note of subversion that took the whole endeavor to another level. He made it his mission, not just to amuse the audience, but to completely undo his fellow performers. Once he zeroed in on one of them, with a serious expression but a tiny knowing twitch at the corner of his lips, that person was doomed.

It seemed incredible that the mousy little man with thinning hair, who looked more like an accountant than anything, was really Loki in disguise. But Conway had an impish sense of humor, a talent for improvisation, and an ability to hide his best ideas until it was time to tape the show. The result, very frequently, was that the cast was just as bowled over as the audience.

Reason - Korman - Favorite

For whatever reason, Korman became a favorite...
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