Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dorf on "CSI"

Tim Conway is doing a guest spot on “CSI” tonight, and that got me thinking about the man, the myth, the Dorf. Looking back, he was a startlingly significant part of pop culture in the ‘70s – from “The Carol Burnett Show” to the “Apple Dumpling Gang” movies to my personal favorite, “The Private Eyes,” the Sherlock Holmes spoof that set Conway and Don Knotts loose in a spooky castle filled with hidden passages and opportunities to goof around.

Mr. Tudball. The old, shuffling guy with the shock of white hair. Dorf. Sure, Conway was funny on his own (OK, maybe not so much as Dorf), but where he really burst to life was when he teamed with another comedian. His work with Harvey Korman on “Carol Burnett” is legendary – the sketches where they crack each other up rank among the funniest things on TV. That pairing gets the lion’s share of attention, and deservedly so.

But Conway also deserves kudos for his big-screen work with Don Knotts. In the six movies the two did together, Conway often played a dim-witted goof; Knotts barely contained his frustration at his buddy’s shenanigans, letting it squeak out in double-takes, pursed lips and dismissive sniffs. Together, comedy gold. Just try not to pee yourself during the scene in “Private Eyes” when Knotts fights back the barf while Conway lists off gross things like “warm milk with lard in it.”

What’s your favorite Conway moment? Please don’t say Dorf.

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