What Tim Conway Taught Us About Being Funny

Tim Conway - Funny
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 05: Actor Tim Conway arrives at the Paley Center for Media and TV Land salute of "The Bob Newhart Show" at the Paley Center for Media on September 5, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

Tim Conway Was Funny In A Way That Never Hurt Anyone

When most people think of Tim Conway, they picture him making Harvey Korman howl with laughter on the Carol Burnett Show.  Usually, Harvey was supposed to be the “Straight Man” in the skit. He was supposed to keep a straight face while Tim Conway shuffled around as the Oldest Man Alive.  Or when Tim was playing “Mickey Hart” during The Family sketches.  Tim would scream “MOTHER HARPER!” to Vicki Lawrence, as if he assumed (wrongly) that Thelma Harper was hard of hearing.

Maybe one of the absolute funniest moments ever on Carol Burnett Show was a bit known forever as “The Elephant Story”:

If you know ANYONE who doesn’t find that clip hilarious, run the other direction. That person is NOT to be trusted!

Of course, Mr. Conway did the little guy, “Dorf” in a series of videotapes sold primarily in the 1980s and 90s.  Early on, he was a regular character on “McHale’s Navy”.  Your kids know him from “SpongeBob Squarepants”.

He was an actor, a writer, a director, a comedian, and certainly one of the funniest people who ever lived!  But his best work, without a doubt, has to be as a featured player on The Carol Burnett Show.  Here’s an early example of that humor. Again, poor Harvey Korman is the victim here, trying to keep it together while Tim does some world-class physical comedy.

As someone who tries to be funny on my little afternoon radio show, here are 3 things Tim Conway taught us:

1. You don’t have to put someone down to be funny. If you need a victim, you yourself will do quite nicely.

2. Don’t take things too seriously.  If you’re trying to do a bit, and everything starts to fall apart…make THAT the bit!  Sometimes it’s funnier to fail in front of everyone.

3. Include EVERYONE in your little joke. Don’t talk over people, or make jokes that only a few people “get”. There are a million things we all have in common.  Plenty of fodder for jokes that include all of us!

Thank you, Tim Conway!  I grew up laughing, thanks to Tim. And then I wanted to make other people laugh as well.  I’m glad Tim Conway was such a huge role model. He was, without a doubt, one of the best!

Rest In Peace, Tim.  Thanks for everything.



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