If ever there was a master of deadpan humor, it’s Tim Conway. His calm, straight-faced delivery has always had a way of making anything he was saying even funnier. In fact, there have been occasions when he was so funny it was literally show-stopping: the other actors broke character and burst out laughing.
Conway grew up near Cleveland, and perhaps this helped shape his sense of humor. He was already working at local television stations by the time he was in his mid 20s, work that included writing material for sketch comedy. An up-and-coming talent like Conway was destined for a bigger stage and soon enough, he was a regular on the “Steve Allen Show.” Soon after that, he was playing a bumbling ensign on “McHale’s Navy.” But it was on “The Carol Burnett Show” in the 1970s where Conway and his gift for sketch comedy really flourished.
“The Carol Burnett Show” earned a total of 25 prime-time Emmy Awards during its 11 year run on CBS, from 1967 to 1978. In all, there were 279 episodes and if you took a look at the list of guest stars, you’d see practically all the big names in entertainment.
“Mama’s Family” was a recurring sketch on “The Carol Burnett Show” that was later spun-off as a show in its own right. In one episode, Conway’s character was telling a story about elephants, or at least he was trying to. Maybe it was just a silly day on the set, but Conway sent Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Carol Burnett out of character and into uncontrollable laughter. Conway himself eventually cracked up and ended up on the floor!
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