He may be a comedy legend, but Tim Conway knows that the humor business -- and his place in it -- aren't to be taken seriously. Though he rode the fame wave on The Carol Burnett Show, not all of Conway's projects have been successful. He recently spotted a cable program showcasing TV pilots that never made it off the runway, i.e. were never picked up for a full season.
"I could actually be the host of that show," Conway says. "I probably did eight or nine shows. Some were on for 13 weeks . . . some were on for six, some were news breaks."
A testament to his sense of humor, Conway's license plate reads "13 WKS," a reference to the run a new TV show typically enjoys before cancellation. Of course, Conway's run on Burnettfar exceeded 13 weeks -- the show aired for 11 seasons -- and he picked up a pocketful of Emmys, for performing and writing, along the way.
Even so, he insists he wasn't in the game for the fame: "I wasn't striving to win awards, to be number one, all of that nonsense. My object in this business was to have fun, and I had fun."
What started as a one-time nightclub stint in 1999 hasn't stopped rolling since. "It kind of exploded," Conway admits. "And the next thing you know, we were doing it for four years." Soaring ticket sales ("The show has been sold out, I would say, 99 percent of the time," he estimates) are proof that the duo still has comic chemistry -- the formula that kept the nation in stitches on Saturday nights from 1967 to 1978.
"It is really a traveling Burnett Show, in a sense," Conway explains. "We do about five sketches [from the series], and some standups, and a girl travels with us, Louise DuArt, who does impressions . . . And it's guaranteed to make you laugh, or we come over and paint your garage." Paint fumes would only enhance the hilarity.
Despite his self-effacing humor and grounded sense of celebrity, Conway is quick to take credit when it's due. And perhaps when it's not. "I'm much brighter than Mr. Korman, so I put this thing together," he says of the touring show. "And since I had custody of him, I asked him if he would be in it."
Though Together Again is scripted, Conway says it allows for improvisation, as did the Burnett Show. "We ad lib a lot, because things during the show call for it . . . So it has the flavor of the old Burnett Show in that, if you're looking for mistakes, if you're looking for ad libs and things, we leave plenty of room for that."
And plenty of people are loving it.
"We're booked through '05," Conway says, "so I guess as long as we can keep breathing, we'll do it.
"It's good to know you can still make people laugh and still make 'em happy."