What's So Funny?: My Hilarious Life

What's So Funny?: My Hilarious Life

4.4 48
by Tim Conway, Carol Burnett, Dick Hill, Jane Scovell

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Six-time Emmy Award–winning funnyman Tim Conway, best known for his characters on The Carol Burnett Show, offers a straight-shooting and hilarious memoir about his life on stage and off as an actor and comedian.

In television history,few entertainers have captured as many hearts and made as many people laugh as Tim Conway. There’s nothing in


Six-time Emmy Award–winning funnyman Tim Conway, best known for his characters on The Carol Burnett Show, offers a straight-shooting and hilarious memoir about his life on stage and off as an actor and comedian.

In television history,few entertainers have captured as many hearts and made as many people laugh as Tim Conway. There’s nothing in the world that Tim Conway would rather do than entertain—and in his first-ever memoir, What’s So Funny?, that’s exactly what he does. From his pranks in small Ohio classrooms to his performances on national television and movies, Tim has been cracking people up for more than seventy years. Long regarded as one of the funniest comedians around, Tim also boasts an inspiring rags-to-riches story.

What’s So Funny? captures Tim’s journey from life as an only child raised by loving but outrageous parents in small-town Ohio during the Great Depression, to his tour of duty in the Army—which would become training for his later role in McHale’s Navy—to his ascent as a national star and household name. By tracing his early path, this audiobook reveals the origins of many of Tim’s unforgettable characters—from Mr. Tudball and the Oldest Man to Mickey Hart to everyone’s favorite, Dorf.

What’s So Funny? shares the hilarious accounts of the glory days of The Carol Burnett Show and his famous partnerships with entertainment greats like Harvey Korman, Don Knotts, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, Vicki Lawrence, Bob Newhart, and of course, Carol Burnett. As a bonus, listeners will enjoy never-before-shared stories of hilarious behind-the-scenes antics on McHale’s Navy and The Carol Burnett Show.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Devotees of Tim Conway will revel in this heartfelt and sweetly revealing memoir. The actor and comedian begins by recounting what he knows about his family history, though Conway admits that he’s quite short on specifics. The humorous memoir proceeds more or less chronologically through his childhood, college years, time spent in the army, and his endeavors to break into show business. Conway’s first stint as an assistant on a Cleveland radio show led to work in the new field of television, and a chance meeting with actor Rose Marie—a star on the Dick Van Dyke Show—proved fortuitous. “Her visit literally launched my career,” Conway writes. By 1966 he had relocated to Los Angeles and began appearing on the Carol Burnett Show. Conway discusses his many professional relationships, which provide the scaffolding for this delightful minicourse in early television history, touching on actors like Don Knotts, Steve Allen, Garry Moore, Harvey Korman, and Burnett. The author writes candidly about his two marriages; his feelings on parenting; his love of horses; his professional ups and downs; as well as his recent work in theater. This is a warm-hearted tribute to Conway’s professional and personal life, with endearing peeks behind the television camera. Agent: Jennifer Gates and Todd Schuster, Zachary Schuster Harmsworth Literary. (Oct.)
Mike Connors
"I knew you were short.
I knew you were shy.
I knew you were talented.
But funny? Oh my yes!
I loved it! The book should have been 500 pages longer."
Don Rickles
"Tim is not only a good friend but a terrific writer. His book has all the qualities of another Mark Twain. Settle back in a chair and enjoy the writing of Tim Conway. It’s worth reading because he mentions me!"
Mel Brooks
"What's so funny? I'll tell you what's so funny! Almost every page of Tim Conway's new book, What's So Funny?."
Gary Sinise
“Tim’s glass-half-full perspective on life is evident on every page. He's made people laugh for over sixty years and remains an American comedic legend. What's So Funny? mirrors the genuinely kind, funny, and witty person Tim is, seizing every opportunity to amuse and delight.”
Tony Hale
"I grew up religiously watching the brilliance of Tim Conway. This book not only confirmed that fact but showed how his positive attitude and unending humor navigated the chaos of this sometimes insane business. Thank you for the inspiration Mr. Conway."
Bob Newhart
"I couldn't put the book down. It was very clever of Tim to put glue on each page. Seriously, I loved it."
Steve Lawrence
"What Frank Sinatra was to music Tim Conway is to comedy. He is inventive, creative, and imaginative. This book should be in everyone's library along with Anna Karenina, War and Peace, and all of my CD's."
Kirkus Reviews
The celebrated funnyman on his frictionless life and times. With the assistance of veteran co-author Scovell (Samuel Ramey, American Bass, 2010, etc.), Conway breezily recounts his career in show business, especially his 11 years on the Carol Burnett Show. The author is pleasant company, but the jokes are pitched to raise a wry grin rather than evoke belly laughs, the showbiz anecdotes are free from salaciousness and scandal, and the personal history yields neither engagement nor insight. The result is a relentlessly genial and inconsequential catalog of mild pranks, warm friendships and highlights of a comfortable career as a midlevel, familiar TV performer. To his credit, Conway realizes his status as a solid supporting player and is charmingly self-effacing about his lack of success as a leading man, but the lack of dramatic stakes eventually produces a soporific effect. The author heaps praise and affection on co-stars like Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman, but he declines to analyze the comedy or production of the immensely popular Carol Burnett Show, and the material reads more like a testimonial than a behind-the-scenes look at a comedy institution. There are chuckles to be had at Conway's misadventures in the Army, on the golf course and at the racetrack, but the book's richest material concerns his early upbringing in Ohio and his eccentric immigrant parents. The author paints affectionate portraits of his hapless Irish father and dynamic Romanian mother, a quirky yet loving couple and perhaps a more compelling subject for a memoir than the agreeable but toothless entertainment memoir on offer here. Mildly amusing and affable to a fault, Conway's tome joins the massive pile of inessential showbiz memoirs.

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Brilliance Audio
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Read an Excerpt

What’s So Funny?

  • People have often asked me, “If you weren’t in show business, what would you be doing?” The truth is, I don’t think there’s anything else I could be doing, so the answer would have to be, nothing. Then again, there’s nothing I love more than making people laugh, so I guess you could say I’m in the only business I could be in. I was born to enjoy life and I’ve always wanted everyone to enjoy it along with me. That’s why I can’t see myself any place other than standing in front of an audience with one purpose in mind—to make people feel a little bit happier than when they came in.

    I didn’t start out to be a comedian. I didn’t want to grow up to be a policeman, or a soldier, or a fireman, either. I wanted to be a jockey and, believe it or not, I actually gave it a try. It didn’t work. The truth is, I was terrified of riding real, live horses. And when I did, I had a habit of falling off them. This sort of thing wouldn’t work for a jockey. You’d be amazed how angry a bettor can get when the horse he’s put money on crosses the finish line without a rider.

    Fifty years ago I slid head first, without a helmet, into the entertainment industry. I came of age during one of the most exciting, innovative, and influential eras in the history of television. My first big show was McHale’s Navy, which was followed by The Carol Burnett Show, where I remained until it ended. That was four decades ago, and I’m still performing. Maybe not on a weekly basis, but you can catch me on shows from SpongeBob SquarePants to 30 Rock, and from Hot In Cleveland to Mike and Molly. While Carol, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and the rest of my Burnett buddies have a special place in my heart, working with people like Tina Fey, Melissa McCarthy, Wendie Malick, and Valerie Bertinelli is not chopped liver. I also perform, live, in theatres, and in dinner clubs from Martha’s Vineyard to Los Angeles, with plenty of stops in between. In other words, I continue to ply my trade, whatever that means. And, considering that I’m approaching the big 8–0, and am still going strong. Not only do I have a classic American rags-to-riches story to tell, I’m living proof that life keeps getting better and better, if you let it. Kind of motivational, don’t you agree? That’s one of the reasons why I decided to write a book.

    So come along and let me entertain you, this time on the printed page. And if I give you a laugh or two, great, and if I don’t, keep it to yourself.

  • Meet the Author

    Tim Conway starred on The Carol Burnett Show for eleven years. He has six Emmys and is in the Comedy Hall of Fame. He went to Bowling Green State University for eleven years (he was a very slow learner). Tim was in the army (ours) for two years, protecting Seattle from "the Red Menace" and was in McHale's Navy for three years. His ambition was to be a jockey, but at his weight even the horses asked him to get off. He has seven children, two grandchildren, and a puppy. Tim has been married to his lovely wife, Charlene, since 1984 and does not have a serious thought in his head.

    Jane Scovell has written books with Elizabeth Taylor, Ginger Rogers, Maureen Stapleton, Marilyn Horne, and Kitty Dukakis, and biographies of Oona Chaplin and Samuel Ramey. She now adds Dorf, Mr. Tudball, and The Old Man to her list.

    Carol Burnett is a highly acclaimed actress known for her roles on stage and screen, most notably The Carol Burnett Show. She has been honored with twelve People’s Choice Awards, eight Golden Globes, six Emmy Awards, The Kennedy Center Honors, and the Mark Twain Prize for Humor.

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    What's So Funny?: My Hilarious Life 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
    Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
    "Dear Jane, Without your assistance, this would have been a pamphlet. - Tim" If you have been around as long as I have, you might just remember Tim Conway, the comedian who graced our television sets with his delightful and unforgettable skits from such memorable shows like The Carol Burnett Show, McHale's Navy as well as movies like Disney's The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Shaggy D.A. But one thing remains clear, he is definitely committed to making people life and that in itself is truly a wonderful gift we all need more of. In the book, "What's So Funny? My Hilarious Life by Tim Conway and Jane Scovell, the reader gets a look at the life behind the scenes of what made Tim who he is today. Reminiscing about his childhood living in Chagrin Falls, Ohio being the only child to Dan and Sophia Conway, we immediately get a sense that this isn't your usual autobiography. Written in the same manner that we all know Tim there are laughs scattered through this book to guarantee not only a smile but a laugh or two. There are the stories of Tim's mom, Sophia who was so conscientious with money that when it came to wallpapering his room as a young boy, she refused to spend money on wall paper paste and created her own from flour and water. The only problem is during the summer with the heat, it baked the paper and caused it to peel off the walls. He shares another great example from his childhood about his parents quirks and how much they truly enjoyed each others company. "They liked to do things together, like dancing. One time they decided to take dancing lessons at a local studio. At the first lesson they were given a strip of paper with two sets of footprints on it, one for the man and the other for the woman. It was a basic dance pattern. The idea was to take the sheet home, put it on the floor, put a record on the phonograph, and step on the appropriate footprints in time with the music. Simple, right? Not for my parents. When I came home from school, I found them standing in the middle of the living room with the music baring from the phonograph. They looked at me sheepishly and asked if I could help them. Help them? How could I help them when what they'd done was cut the footprints from the paper and pasted them on the bottom of their shoes? I guess they figured that would make the shoes magically do the steps. When it didn't happen they were stopped in their glued-on tracks." (pg 33). There are so many great memories captured in this book from his encounters and friendships with Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Steve Allen, Ernie Anderson, Don Knotts and so many others that this is guaranteed to be a memoir like any other. There are practical jokes he played on police officers, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne as kids from his childhood growing up in school. I think some of the best parts are his time spent on the Carol Burnett show. It had me going back to YouTube to watch such notable episodes like The Dentist skit with Harvey Korman who Tim was challenged to make break down during the skit with laughter. This is truly a great book to enjoy. I received What's So Funny? by Tim Conway and Jane Scovell compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions are strictly my own. I absolutely loved this book. Just the style in which it is written is such a easy going and likeable manner of Tim Conway that you can sense that he has truly enjoyed his life every step of the way. There are some great pictures capture inside that gives you an inside look at the love and laughter as well as personal friendships he has managed to capture after all these almost 80 years with us. I easily give this one a 5 out of 5 stars! Thank you Tim for the memories and the laughter after all these years! You've made life a true joy!
    Rick_Tower More than 1 year ago
    What's So Funny is a remarkable book about the life and memories of Tim Conway, one of America’s greatest comedic talents. From his hilarious work on the Carol Burnett Show to his film partnerships with Don Knotts, this book covers it all. It is filled with interesting information about Conway’s life and career. It is a fine book, well worth reading.
    coreyblissford More than 1 year ago
    Tim Conway is one of my favorite comedians of all time. To hear his story in his own words is amazing. He is a comic genius and that is apparent in the way the words leap off the page. I loved this book and highly recommend it.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    An excellend read and VERY FUNNY. Tim Conway is a Master of the TV Comedy Scene and this Book enhances his stature in the Comedy World.
    Kneeman2012 More than 1 year ago
    With Tim Conway, I knew this would entertaining and funny. I wasn't disappointed! How he developed his humor and style is unfolded in his stories about his years before becoming a comic. This book will give you a new perspective on Tim when you view and review his work in television.
    bonnieCA More than 1 year ago
    I never knew much about Tim Conway's background--I just knew he was very funny. I really enjoyed reading his story.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have enjoyed Tim Conway'S performances on both The Carol Burnett Show and Mc Hale's Navy. Saying that, I was interested in reading about the actor who was successful in making me laugh. He writes as well as he tickles the funny bone. This is more autobiography as it contains his memories as opposed to a biographer's footnoted scholarship. The introduction by Carol Burnett was an added bonus to enjoy.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    It was pure pleasure to listen to Tim Conway's unassuming but witty narrative of his life thus far. Friends will want to borrow it and you'll be delighted to share it!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I've always been a fan and reading this was an absolute delight! I could hear him telling these stories as I read. I enjoyed hearing where some of his characters came from. If you're a fan of Tim Conway, you'll be a fan of this book.
    NJWH More than 1 year ago
    I thoroughly enjoyed Tim's book. It was interesting with lots of "funny" thrown in. I usually do not read these type of books all the way through. This one I did, and it was well worth it.
    Mik3MF More than 1 year ago
    Tim Conway has been one of my favorite funny men for a very long time. As a writer he tells anecdotes, barely skimming the surface of a rather ordinary life which he makes sound rather ordinary. I don't really know why he wrote this book unless someone suggested he could make a few bucks. It is lightweight and nor much of a memoir. He tells you what happened, rarely giving the reader a glimpse of the man underneath. He tells us he wasn't much of a student and the book underlines that reality. If it wasn't for some innate and quirky way of seeing the world and being funny, he would probably be managing a fast food joint somewhere in the midwest. I have no better understanding of how he feels about anything, how his comedic mind works, or why it is important for anyone to want to read about him. I kind of feel cheated.
    talltreesgal More than 1 year ago
    Learned a lot about this great man who made us laugh. If more folks in this world would laugh it would be a change in our climate. He is the type of person that comes along not often enough. Book well written and easy to read. It was one you wanted to read more.
    Purrkz More than 1 year ago
    It was fascinating to meet Tim's parents and family friends. The horse episodes were fun, but the best was the recap of his famous sketches from "The Carol Burnett Show." There were even a few laugh out loud moments.
    Ricks34 More than 1 year ago
    After watching Tim Conway for so many years, I felt that I knew him (in a general way). However, this book gave me insight to his life, his love, and his humor. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Tim through the years.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Tim Conway is an extraordinary actor. His writing style is funny, but heartwarming. This book gives an insight on his background which is funny in itself. I highly recommend this book!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I was here i dont speak english ;)
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Kiss your hand three times repost this on three different books look under your pillow
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Answer to question.. You are.. and Carol. I loved your book so much, that I read it 3 times. wished we can find more good comedy like yours was.. I used to watch the Carol Burnett show when I was kid.. We could only get one channel. I really enjoyed your shows and the book too..
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