Harvey Korman was Tim Conway's biggest fan on The Carol Burnett Show

No matter the sketch, Tim Conway knew he already had his biggest fan right up there onstage with him.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

There was no one who enjoyed Tim Conway's frequent guest appearances on The Carol Burnett Show more than Harvey Korman. No matter the audience, if Conway was onstage, he had at least one fan that night.

Being the "straight man" to a comedian is like setting up a business with a friend and letting them make all the profit. The "straight man" refers to one actor playing it straight for the comedian to be funny.

Harvey Korman was The Carol Burnett Show's "straight man." He aimed to provide something for the comedian to play off of while keeping a straight face. There was just one problem: This straight man couldn't keep a straight face when Conway was onstage.

"It's hard," Korman said in a 1973 interview with The Lansing State Journal. "You can't just get any good actor. You need chemistry. You must fit together. I seem to have the knack for fitting well with just about anybody."

Korman had worked well with others in comedy. Take a look at his time on The Carol Burnett Show and The Danny Kaye Show as examples. No matter the show, whenever Conway was around, there was no one else Korman would rather have been with.

Conway is known for his work in iconic Burnett sketches which included: "The Elephant Story," The Oldest Fireman," The Dentist," and more.

Most famously, Conway is known for "The Dentist" sketch, where many fans remember when he made Korman break onstage. Later, it was confirmed that Conway made Korman literally wet himself onstage.

Despite Korman being cast as the straight man for The Carol Burnett Show, many viewers thought Korman was one of the funniest cast members on the series.

"In sketch comedy, I don't think anybody touches him," Conway said about Korman. "It's like a finely tuned racing car. There's no way you can beat him."

"Harvey has done close to 1,000 sketches with Carol and Danny Kaye before that," Conway said. "It's not always a different character in each one, but it's certainly a different attitude. Something has to happen to make people laugh every time, and he's done it."

In the interview, Korman said he enjoyed setting up funny situations and jokes for people to laugh at. He knew what comedians thrived on, and he was able to provide it. Without Korman, the comedian would be left with no laugh.

After 12 years of playing it straight on The Carol Burnett Show, Korman said the cast had worked together for so long that they began anticipating what each other would say next.

"There's no doubt about it, Harvey is my best audience," Conway said in a 1973 interview with Sunday News. "Every time we work together in a sketch, something triggers Harvey's funny bone, and he can't stop laughing even when we were supposed to be taking everything so seriously."

In the interview, Korman defended himself, saying that Conway would add bits and jokes to get a reaction from the audience... and him. No matter how often The Carol Burnett Show cast would rehearse, Conway would never do a bit in the same way.

"He's got a great comic mind, and he's always testing new gags or bits of business," Korman said. "I can't help falling apart because I'm one of his greatest fans. It's his fault I break up. It's impossible to be around him and keep a straight face."

If Korman and Conway were onstage together, you knew it would be comedic gold. Korman was Conway's biggest fan, and we suspect the feeling was mutual.

"I have more fun than the audience," Korman said. "I've laughed not only at the original version of the sketch but at each new twist Tim gives to it right up to and including the taped version in front of the live audience."

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14 Comments

drcrumpler 7 months ago
Loved Korman in Blazing Saddles & High Anxiety. I remember seeing him on Perry Mason, or playing the villain on The Wild Wild West or even F Troop. Seeing Korman on a show, funny or serious is a nice surprise you weren't expecting.
PierreKhoury 7 months ago
The Family has always been my favorite of all the Carol Burnett episodes!
Love Mickey Hart.
LalaLucy 7 months ago
One of the finest comedy teams ever. ❤️
hootrs23 7 months ago
tim conway was the best. from mchale's navy to the carol burnett show. RIP.
DEEDEE 7 months ago
The best part of the show was when Harvey would start breaking up b/c of Tim. You could tell the audience enjoyed that also. I mean, there are youtube videos just about the Tim-Harvey skits!!
CoreyC 7 months ago
There is a very long lists of comic duos from Laurel & Hardy to Harvey Korman and Tim Conway. As important for the funny man so is the straight man.
LoveMETV22 7 months ago
In the article's picture it looks like Carol Burnett is setting up a charade clue. Tim Conway is thinking
" two words/ first word".... and Harvey Korman is wondering why Vicki Lawrence is asleep.
Runeshaper 7 months ago
Sounds like they made a GREAT team! 😊
Robertp 7 months ago
There’s just something about those two. They get belly laughs, not just chuckles. There’ll never be another duo like them.
Andybandit 7 months ago
I like Harvey Korman and Tim Conway when they do their skits. They are so funny.
LoveMETV22 7 months ago
Happy Independence Day " 𝗠𝗲𝗧𝗩 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝗳𝗳 "
Thank You for the Stories and Quizzes you provide now and year round.

Hopefully your staff enjoys the Holiday!
Pacificsun 7 months ago
In terms of choosing reruns in perpetuity, and the list is getting shorter and shorter. The reward in watching TCBS is appreciating that chemistry between TC and HK. It's so obvious, so enjoyable. And because of their flawless attention to detail and timing. There is always something more to appreciate in their sketches. How they play off each other. HK's generosity in patiently allowing TC to riff endlessly. And my hunch is TC's reciprocal appreciation, even though he always takes the lead. There aren't a lot of variety shows, nearly timeless no matter the decade. But TCBS returns a 𝒍𝒐𝒕 of entertainment!!
CoreyC Pacificsun 7 months ago
TCBS was a great ensemble show and they all worked well and respected each other.
LoveMETV22 7 months ago
Love the show and both Tim Conway and Harvey Korman's roles. Sounds as though TC's strategy/secret to keeping HK and the other cast in stitches was in the phrase:

" no matter how often The Carol Burnett Show cast would rehearse, Conway would never do a bit in the same way.
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