Judge Erick Harper says forget Dorf—Tim Conway is much funnier full size.
"I took office right after Warden Riley was shot."
This disc is a collection of Tim Conway's classic standup and sketch comedy bits from the 1960s. Many of them feature Conway as his recurring character Dag Hereford, an utterly clueless jack-of-all-trades. Hereford shows up as the warden of a prison that works on the honor system, the world's worst jockey, and quite possibly the word's squarest hippie, among other unlikely incarnations. Conway delivers his material with his trademark deadpan sincerity, appearing more earnest and guileless as his lines become more and more outrageous. It is a delivery technique that would later work well for him as a player on The Carol Burnett show and later his own program.
Most, if not all, of Conway's performances are culled from episodes of The Hollywood Palace, a comedy/variety show which ran from 1964-1970. Conway swings his shtick with such guest hosts as Bing Crosby and David Janssen, often making them crack up as he clearly leaves the script and improvises ever more fanciful silliness—another of his trademarks that he carried on to later television appearances.
The video quality of Conway's sketches varies quite a bit, looks pretty good for live television of this vintage. Nothing on this disc is going to blow viewers away visually, but nothing is in so bad condition as to make it hard on the eyes, either. Audio is pretty good, clear and easy to understand.
The one special feature on this disc is a reprise of Conway's prison warden sketch. The original was from a 1965 black and white appearance opposite David Janssen, while the later one is in color from about 1968 and showcases Conway using Joan Crawford as his foil instead. What is remarkable about the two versions of the sketch is the amazing consistency of Conway's delivery and comic timing; for a comedian with such a reputation for improvised nuttiness, his attention to detail and precision is remarkable.
The material is in pretty good shape, and it is still funny. Fans of Conway or anyone looking for some good-natured, clean, slightly outlandish laughs might find this disc worth an occasional look.
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Scales of Justice
• Encore: "The Warden," Featuring Joan Crawford
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