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"The Dentist" on Carol Burnett

Last post 02-19-2007, 3:45 PM by mdj441. 1 replies.
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  •  03-05-2006, 3:09 PM 451

    "The Dentist" on Carol Burnett

    This is a long post, but then again, The Carol Burnett Show is one of those true cornerstones of TV. Most who have seen it agree that The Dentist (1969) is the apex of Conway and Korman. The basic premise of the skit was recreated on the show a few years later, with Tim in a hospital emergency room being mistaken for a doctor by Harvey playing a thief who has been shot and is demanding treatment. The original is better if only because it was the first time it was done, but Tim's "slow burn" was always so masterful. In "The Furher" with Lyle Waggoner, the pauses between the verses of "Railroad" are absolutely excruciating. Conway waits just long enough to make everyone think he's finished, and then out comes another verse, and then another, and another, and another. A true comic sadist.

    Another personal favorote is in one of the "Old Man" sketches where he is a clockmaker, Conway, in that sooooo slow old man's voice, very deliberately starts describing a clock with two eyes on it. It works with the left eye showing the minute, and the right one showing the hour. You can tell he's ad libbing, and Harvey does too, knowing something is coming, but not really sure what to expect. The next thing out of Conway's mouth is "Want to see quarter to three?", whereby he proceeds to look right at Harvey and cross his eyes. It's so short, and the audience and Korman know he's going to do it to them, and then, Wham! You die anyway (right along with Harvey), like a moth being drawn into a flame.

    Two other classic Old Man skits are when he is the hot dog stand vendor, waiting forever for the hot dog to roll from the front to the back and catch it in the bun. It is agonizing as the weiner rolls from each section of the machine, and then as it rolls off the front, he misses it in the bun. I think the last one of these that stands out in my mind is the Old Man as the costume assistant to Harvey while he is backstage. Ultimately, Conway ends up on the clothes conveyor, hanging in a coat on a hanger gliding by back and forth on the rack. Harvey was trying valiantly to hold it together that time, but the repeated passes back and forth in front of him, with Tim making face after face, just wore him down to a pulp.

    The brilliance of Conway is evident when you watch these skits for the 30th time and still laugh out loud at them. His brilliance carried beyond the Burnett years too. I remember the first time I watched him do Darryl Dorf on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson in the Awesome80s. Once again, agony from raw, wretching laughter. Johnny was absolutely gone. Carol once described Tim as "Gold", and she is one of the nearly extinct breed of performers who had the class to set her own ego aside and let the boys just roll. She provided the consistency and quality of the show throughout its entire run, but Tim was like the comedy relief on a comedy show. Magic. Absolute magic. How far TV has fallen.


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  •  02-19-2007, 3:45 PM 2745 in reply to 451

    Re: "The Dentist" on Carol Burnett

    Hi Kurt, ihope you can help me. I saw the dentist sketch years ago and thought it was so funny. Do you know where i can get a video or dvd of this sketch from. Have seen some advertised but they dont seem to have that particular sketch. Please can you help. Mike.
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