I honestly hate being the bearer of bad news, although maybe you all will have heard this by the time you read this. On the way home tonight (during a break from what was a very illuminating Love Line), I heard the news that Harvey Korman has died.
I have to admit that I've never been a big Blazing Saddles fan (to quote my brother Ryan/Jimmy, "I get it, I just don't think it's funny"). But I loved, loved, loved Korman on the Carol Burnett Show--which used to rerun on Saturday or Sunday nights when I was a kid. I have a fondness for comedians who can't stay in character (this explains my weird thing for Jimmy Fallon too), particularly when they are being cracked up by someone they share the stage with who is even funnier than they are. It's totally unprofessional, I know. But it was always clear to me that Tim Conway just really, really cracked Harvey Korman up. And that is very sweet. It always made Korman seem like a good guy--that he didn't begrudge Conway the greater share of the laughter.
And I know that you know what I'm talking about. If you are Jimmy Fallon it is impossible to be professional. No amount of rehearsal can prepare you-- it doesn't matter how many times you've heard that freakshow Christopher Walken say, "I gotta have more cow bell" or how many times you've seen Will Ferrell jump up and down, beating on the cowbell, exposing his hairy belly, you can't freaking keep yourself from laughing. Every subsequent time I see that skit, the thing that always really gets me going is watching Fallon in the background.
Nothing is a testament to a comedian's talent like the laughter of other comedians, and nothing is a testament to a man like his deep appreciation of that which is funny. There is something beautiful and generous about that kind of relationship between funny people. And this is what I loved about watching Tim Conway and Harvey Korman together.