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.