Call me an old curmudgeon — go ahead, call me one — but I tend to grieve over the death of celebrities some younger folks may not remember.
In this case, I’m thinking about Tim Conway, the iconic comedian who perfected his craft on television shows such as the Carol Burnett Show and McHale’s Navy.
Call me old fashioned, but Conway represented humor that everyone could identify with, clean, non-confrontational humor that was none-the-less funny.
A master of ad lib comedy, Conway was funniest on the fly, in other words off script on the Carol Burnett Show, a one-hour variety show that was filmed live in front of a studio audience.
Some of the funniest moments came when Conway and his fellow comedians, especially Harvey Korman, who visibly tried — without success — to keep a straight face while attempting to complete a sketch.
Those of us with access to the internet can access one of the funniest comedy sketches imaginable, one appearing on the Carol Burnett Show with Conway portraying a fledgling dentist and Korman, a patient with a toothache.
The 10-minute sketch involves Conway accidentally injecting himself with novocaine with predictable and hilarious results.
I guess that now, with the emphasis on opioid addiction, someone, somewhere, won’t find the humor in that sketch, but you have to look at it in the context of the time in which it was concocted.
The Carol Burnett Show hit its stride in the 1970s, when comedy had taken a more topical and political approach, with material that was just as funny, but more in tune with the upheavals in American society present at the time.
That’s all well and good, but the type of comedy performed on the Carol Burnett Show was good enough and funny enough to cross generational lines.
It was something I, as a college student, and my mother could watch together during my weekend trips home.
Comedy’s generational appeal seems to be missing in today’s world, which is full of gotcha moments on Facebook and other social media.
To me, it’s a sad occasion when old school comedians pass away, but their work lives on.