Sunday, October 27, 2013

What's So Funny? by Tim Conway with Jane Scovell

Funny. This book is funny.

You've seen him on The Carol Burnett Show and in McHale's Navy. You know he's funny on TV but what is he like at home?

Conway shares his life with us. He had an Irish dad and a Romanian mother and grew up in a small town in Ohio. Being a friend of his dad's was dangerous (let's see, a broom handle in the eye, a hand shut in a car door, and more). Conway's stories about his parents will have you laughing out loud.

And then he went to school. Being the smallest in the class, he used humor in defense. He wanted to be a jockey. An English teacher who gave him the courage to express himself. College at Bowling Green where he started doing comedy sketches. A two year hitch in the Army after graduation (using a fluorescent bulb for a rifle – you have to read the book). During this time he decided to become a professional comedian. He and a friend debuted in a Seattle club and lasted two shows before getting the boot. Back home he got a job writing comedy for a radio show in Cleveland. He began doing his life's work – making people laugh. Then came local TV, seen by Rose Marie (in Cleveland for an interview). She took reels back to Hollywood … and in September of 1960, Toma Conway was on his way to Hollywood and Steve Allen. Then Carol Burnett. 

There were some surprises too, like Conway being in “legitimate” summer stock theater and writing some plays himself. He's also quite a family man, enjoying his kids and grand-kids too.

In reminiscing about early television, Conway writes, “I miss watching those worry-free television programs, the kind you could view with the whole family without hearing foul language or seeing too much violence or too much skin.” (230) Me too. Thanks, Tim, for being a part of TV's golden years.

Conway never stops being Conway. Some of the pranks he's pulled, well, you've just got to read the book. Thanks for making us laugh, Tim – back then on TV and today in your book.

Tim Conway, well, by his own admission, he doesn't have a serious thought in his head.
Jane Scovell has coauthored several books and has contributed to many articles for many publications. She lives in New York City.

Howard Books (an imprint of Simon and Schuster), 247 pages. You can read an excerpt from the book at the publisher's product page.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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