Search your memory -- if you're really, really old, you'll remember him as Ensign Parker, bumbling his way through McHale's Navy opposite Ernie Borgnine. But if you're simply old, you know Tim Conway as the idiot savant of sketch comedy, the innocently good-natured goon who walked all over straight man Harvey Korman, most notably during their years as regulars on Carol Burnett's famed '70s variety show. If the memory is a good one, you'll want to be in the front row when Conway and Korman reprise their favorite skits on stage Friday at the Paramount Theatre. If not, well -- a lot of things could be worse:
"I grew up in the era when the television was like a member of the family," Conway notes. "Now I cannot even sit in a room with underage kids and run through the channels." Though "not a prude," Conway just doesn't think television is the right medium for exposed private parts and sexual innuendo. An ordinary man's comic with an old-fashioned, vaudevillian sense of humor and an advocate of the kind of broad, kind-spirited comedy he helped to popularize on The Carol Burnett Show, Conway says the best comedy comes from real life -- "You find something funny that could actually happen to a person, try to describe it in a comedic way and re-create it. But most comedians today end up in front of a brick wall, use foul language -- and end up with their own shows."
So how does Conway explain the odd character Dorf -- a truncated creature (actually Conway, standing in two holes in the floor with shoes on his knees) who grew out of a takeoff on Fantasy Island and has gone on to appear in Conway's series of comedic sports-instruction videos? He contends that Dorf is in no way meant to offend little people: "Billy Barty was a good friend of mine," he says. "Dorf," Conway insists, "is just a guy with some strange moves."
And what's in Conway's future? Well, he's just a common man: "I have a dental appointment in May."