An Emmy Award–winning actor and comedian, Tim Conway has been making people laugh for more than 70 years. Best known for his work on The Carol Burnett Show and McHale’s Navy, he has just finished his first memoir, What’s So Funny, due from Howard Books this October.
“I always had a good sense of humor,” Conway tells Show Daily. “I saw the comedy in everything that passed my way. I used humor as an entrance or excuse, but I was never vicious—except with Harvey Korman. With him I was vicious.” Conway and Korman, wh o died in 2008, were part of the classic ensemble that made The Carol Burnett Show one of the most popular television shows ever. Conway was also a writer on the show and famous for teasing Korman mercilessly during skits to make him break character—and usually succeeding. “Harvey was probably the brightest guy I ever met. He could do a crossword puzzle in ink in 10 minutes, but the man could not tie his shoes, so he was my foil. He could be led in any direction I wanted,” jokes Conway.
Conway grew up in a small town in Ohio where, he says, he had a “wonderful childhood” with parents who were “very understanding about what this nut case was doing.” His early struggles with dyslexia taught him the value of humor. “I dreaded having the teacher call on me in front of the class. I remember giving a book report on They Were Expendable, and I said They Were Expandable. The class laughed, and they thought I was being funny. Lesson learned.”
From Carol Burnett and McHale’s Navy to recent guest spots on 30 Rock and SpongeBob Squarepants, Conway has secured longevity in a business that rarely supports it. The key, says Conway, is to enjoy the work. “No matter what show I was on, I never looked on myself as a star. I was working.”
Conway says he is looking forward to BEA and “will be happy to sign anyone’s book.” As to his own book, he would like readers to “continue smiling after they have read it and look at life a little lighter.” He adds, “The news is almost impossible to watch on a daily basis. I am looking for humor and the ability to translate that onto paper so people can enjoy it.”
Today, Conway signs galleys of What’s So Funny? in the Simon & Schuster booth (2638) at 1 p.m.