When I was in elementary school, I LOVED the Carol Burnett Show... still do. At one point the show moved to a later time slot and would start at my bedtime. I was crushed. I begged my mom to PLEASE let me stay up late enough to watch it. She made a deal with me that as long as I was completely ready for bed and went straight to bed when the show was over, I could stay up late. I don't remember what bedtime was like on any other night of the week, but I do remember that on those very special nights, I was in pj's with teeth brushed and pillow in hand ready to run for my room right after that famous ear-tugging "good-night." To say I'm a fan is putting it mildly.
When I came to work this morning and learned that one of the amazing funny men from that show, Harvey Korman, had died... it was like losing a member of the family. I grew up watching him desperately try to keep a straight face while Tim Conway did all he could to make Korman crack. And, as though he knew I was just waiting for it... Korman would almost always crack. At those times, I had tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard. I think that's when I perfected the fine art of the "quiet shake laugh," as my best friend and I call it. You know, where you're laughing so hard your whole body is shaking, but you're not making any noise. Just shaking, with buckets of tears. I tried to remain quiet because I didn't want to miss the next line.
Have you ever seen the dentist sketch? If not, please try to find it. I'm sure someone has it posted online somewhere. Tim Conway is once again doing all he can to break Korman, and Korman is doing all he can to keep a straight face. But I think you would have to be made of steel to keep a straight face during that one. When Korman starts to laugh... it's almost like he's letting everyone watching know that, yes, it was really funny and, yes, they really loved what they were doing. The two of them as a team were unbeatable. My mother and I saw them performing live in Austin a few years ago. What a wonderful, nostalgic treat.
I now own the Carol Burnett Show on DVD. Chances are good that tonight my kids will get an introduction to classic TV and comedy sketches at their finest. I'm going to dig through those DVDs to find the dentist sketch... and so many other countless moments in television history that brought me great joy as a child.
Thank you, Harvey Korman, for being so funny, and for sharing that talent with the world. While many on earth may be mourning your loss, chances are good you've got 'em rolling with laughter in Heaven tonight.