Harvey Korman had a ton of ideas but said no format fit his style

"I have a million ideas, but am still looking for a good format," Korman said.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Harvey Korman was one of the funniest people on television during his time on The Carol Burnett Show. The hilarious comedian added a unique sense of humor to the variety program starring Carol Burnett, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and a rotating list of famous guests.

Korman could crack up just about anyone, from the audience to Tim Conway and the rest of his castmates. 

With all of his success on the series, one would think that after the show ended in 1978, he would have job offers lined up for days. However, that didn't happen. After 11 years on The Carol Burnett Show, Korman was out there on his own — as a regular actor.

He was no closer to making a successful transition from "second banana" on The Carol Burnett Show to a TV headliner when he left the series to chase the dream.

After his time on the series came to an end, Korman made one series pilot that went nowhere and The Harvey Korman Show, a situational comedy that came and went very quickly.

"I have a million ideas, but am still looking for a good format," Korman said in a 1978 interview with The Courier-Journal. "I'm a little confused at this point, but hopefully everything will eventually come together."

According to the interview, Korman had hopes of producing and directing films after his time on the variety program. He even set up his own production company: Bristol Pictures.

"It's a company without any projects, manpower, funds, energy or motivation," Korman admitted. "It takes me a long time to do things. I've always been a later starter. And to tell you the truth, I've never felt secure enough to produce or direct."

As he looked back on The Harvey Korman Show, he said the writing was not up to par and the casting wasn't exactly what he wanted — although he didn't name any names.

Eventually, Korman would go on to do High Anxiety (1977), Mama's Family (1983), The Flintstone Comedy Special (1980) and more.

In a 1971 interview with News-Journal, Korman said most professional comedians lack a sense of humor in a conventional sense because they see nothing funny about the business.

In the interview, Korman was very serious about being ok with playing a supporting character, rather than being a leading star. Maybe that's why he took his time in his career after The Carol Burnett Show ended?

"Maybe I'll always be second banana because I'm afraid of the responsibility of having others depend on me," Korman said. "When I'm on camera I know Carol's there as a mainstay. It was the same with Danny (Kaye). They carry the burden and responsibility."

Aside from Burnett, Korman said he took influence and thought that Tim Conway, Don Rickles and Jonathan Winters were the nation's top three comedians. With friends like that, a guy can do anything.

No matter where Korman's career took him after The Carol Burnett Show ended, he was happy with his career. He was a seriously funny comedian who cared deeply about his future — even if it took him awhile to get it going.

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6 Comments

Pacificsun 1 month ago
IMO, it's hard for some to accept there's a difference between helping to generate chemistry within an ensemble (performance). And shining brightly enough on their own, as either a Lead in a series, or headlining their own Variety Show. This is pretty obvious, but people tuned in because they loved CB (herself) and (for example) Red Skelton and Jackie Gleason and on it goes. But those headliners have absolutely enough confidence and faith in their project to carry it! out! It's like magic; if done properly, viewers don't see the wizard behind the curtain. Because the end the result is enough satisfaction. Like we just tune into TCBS to relax and have fun. We don't care how it's put together, it just works.!! Can the same be said about the others who tried, even though they had their own talent which happened in combination with others!! In a way, because they benefitted from each other.

And by the way, I believe (or can't remember) but there were very few headliners of Variety Shows who were female, and could support a revolving format. But add those who are remembered!!
cperrynaples 2 months ago
He actually tried to do a sitcom for ABC in 1978! Bonus Question: what's the connection between Harvey's replacement on TCBS and his sitcom's co-star?
cperrynaples cperrynaples 2 months ago
BTW, did you notice they didn't mention the Star Wars Holiday Special? I wonder why...LOL!
daDoctah cperrynaples 2 months ago
They were afraid kids would try to imitate his cooking segment, and not having four arms would injure themselves in the kitchen.
cperrynaples daDoctah 2 months ago
Oh come on, we all know George Lucas hated the special and had it buried! Sometimes you can find it on YouTube!
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