With the passing of Dick Martin the other day and now Harvey Korman, I feel compelled to acknowledge these two great funny men.
"Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" was a huge show back in my youth. I was probably too young at the time to get some of the wink,wink, nudge, nudge humour, but there was still plenty of things I enjoyed, including Arte Johnson's "Verry Interestink" nazi peeking out from behind the fern, the poems "By Henry Gibson", and of course, the introduction of soon-to-be-famous Goldie Hawn, go-go dancing with mod graffiti painted all over her bikini clad body. And then there were the hosts: straight man Dan Rowan with his ever present pipe, and the sly comic playboy, Dick Martin. The show was often topical, with Dan and Dick commenting satirically on recent news events in their monologue, but mostly there was a real scattergun, non sequitur approach to the comedy, with lots of verbal puns and crazy visuals. Definitely a product of the swinging sixties!
Harvey Korman was part of one of the funniest comedy ensembles on TV, as a cast member on "The Carol Burnett Show". I think many would agree that the show hit its stride when Tim Conway joined the cast several years later, acting as a great comic foil for the suave Korman. It was always great fun to see how the poker faced Conway would, through brilliant comic timing and physical comedy, cause Korman to have to stifle the urge to break out laughing. With Harvey Korman being so tall and sophisticated, next to short, dumpy little Tim Conway, the two comedians made for a great study in contrasts. This is something that I try to stress in my teaching of character design to the Sheridan animation students too, as physical contrast can immediately help to communicate personality types to your audience, as well as add visual variety. By the way, speaking of animation, Harvey Korman also had a second career as a cartoon voiceover actor, supplying many voices on such shows as "The Flintstones", including the little green alien with the big head, The Great Gazoo.
Anyway, rather than mourn their loss this week, I would like to celebrate the legacy they left us. Here's to two of TV's great funny men: