Evan Dorkin (evandorkin) wrote,
Evan Dorkin

R.I.P. Harvey Korman

When I was a kid the Carol Burnett Show was, for me at least, The Harvey Korman and Tim Conway show. Those were the two I tuned in for. Burnett was, I guess, a powerhouse entertainer, or at least, like Tracey Ullman, that's how everyone reacted to her, although I thought she could be quite tedious and mawkish (although Eunice was a terrifying creature presented in a very depressing scenario, especially for an upbeat variety show) and every time a musical number started up I wished I could invent cable television and change the channel to a monster movie. Or the Curling championships. Anything. And don't get me started on that cleaning lady routine of hers, oy. Vicki Lawrence seemed like an add-on for some demographic I could never fathom, and I guess Mannequin Lad Lyle Waggoner was there to attract women, or to further prove that you don't need acting talent to become rich and famous on television.

Anyway, I watched it faithfully, and like I said, the two character actors made me laugh. These days Conway kind of bums me out, maybe it was those Dorf tapes (and commercials) he made or his overall softness as a persona or something intangible that's caused me to turn away from liking him as a performer. But Korman still makes me laugh. I can't watch the Burnett shows anymore, they seem shrill and obvious and  irritating in a  show-bizzy way that doesn't jibe with me the way something shrill and obvious and show-bizzy like, say, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts still does. Maybe it's those goddamned musical numbers. But Korman was goofy-looking, goofy-sounding, tall and semi-lummoxy, with a scraggle of sagebrush hair and an ability to get good and loud or severely sarcastic. Which came across with his voice alone, as The Great Gazoo from the Flintstones attested to. Some folks hate the character, but I always thought he looked funny and had, well, a great sarcastic asshole voice. Watching Conway crack Korman up and muff his lines on the Burnett show ended up becoming funnier than the scripted stuff. And then there's Korman's Hedley Lamar in Blazing Saddles (a film I really wish was better than it is) and to a lesser degree, the villainous doctor in High Anxiety (a lesser degree movie all the way, but whatever, Korman worked it). I even watched The Nutt House hotel sitcom he starred in, many, many years ago. Because I was a TV kid, and I thought Harvey Korman was funny.

So, R.I.P. Harvey Korman.
Tags: r.i.p.

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