Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Raising the stakes

I used to hate it when, while still living at home, one of my sisters would come to me with a question and preface it with the words "you're smart." It seemed to raise the stakes somehow. I didn't mind taking a stab at answering a question, but the "you're smart" comment seemed to turn the pressure on. I imagine it's like public speakers who receive such a glowing introduction they may wonder how they can ever give a speech that will live up to it.

That's a bit how a feel about Tim Conway's autobiography What's So Funny? My Hilarious Life. The title raises the stakes. How can the book ever live up to its title?

It is, in fact, a very funny book. Conway tells some great stories about his pranks at the expense of Harvey Korman, his college days at Bowling Green State University, his early career on a Cleveland television station (that he was reluctant to leave when invited to Hollywood), his experiences on McHale's Navy, his failed sitcoms, his movies with Don Knotts and, of course, his long relationship with Carol Burnett. I enjoyed the tale about the time he and two show business friends dressed up in Hollywood lion costumes to sneak into a football game featuring the Detroit Lions, then found the costumes too hot to actually enjoy the game. My favorite story is about the time when Conway was in his third year on the hit TV comedy McHale's Navy and he got a call from his mother telling him about a job opening at the Chagrin Falls, Ohio, hardware story. He pointed out he was on a successful show in Hollywood, but she, sounding very much like a mother, said, "You got a chance to get a good steady job. You should take it."

I am a big Tim Conway fan and have been since I knew him as Ensign Parker. I enjoyed the book very much. Yet every time I picked it up I would notice the cover and wonder if the book was really living up to the title. The novel Philip Roth called The Great American Novel is not among those held in highest regard by his fans and critics. Coincidence? I wonder.

No comments:

Post a Comment