It’s hard to believe, but today marks the fifth anniversary since the death of Harvey Korman. While perhaps not the household name he deserves to be, Korman was a comedy titan whose work with (among others) Mel Brooks, Carol Burnett, and Peter Sellers remains some of the funniest moments ever put on screen. Korman could do it all – sketch comedy, television, movies, heroes, villains, you name it – He was as versatile as they come, and there’ve been very few who’ve come close to being as funny as he was. Here then, five years after he left the world a little less funny, are Harvey Korman’s five funniest roles:
Count de Money:
Mel Brooks loved casting Korman as self-rightious blowhards. While it’s Brooks who gets all the punchlines in the following clip, it’s Korman’s insufferable snootiness that’s the real star. To this day, whenever I need to go to an ATM, I tell people I need “de Money”
Korman won four Emmys and a Golden Globe for his work on the landmark Carol Burnet Show; “The Ventriloquist” is clinching proof that each one was well deserved. While this may not be his funniest bit, it’s an astonishing one – especially for a sketch comedy show: A five minute monologue, disguised as a dialogue, that runs the emotional gamut without ever seeming forced or hokey. But, sure SNL, keep running “The Californians”.
The Great Gazoo:
Flintstones fans just hate The Great Gazoo, the extraterrestrial antagonist to Fred and Barney’s Earthbound idiocy. Introduced halfway through the show’s run, Gazoo-haters hail him as The Flintstone’s “Jump the Shark” moment. Fine, they’re entitled to their (wrong) opinion. But, if not for Korman’s voice, oozing smug superiority, The Great Gazoo would have simply been mediocre.
The Fireman Sketch:
Sure, this sketch belongs to The Carol Burnett Show co-star Tim Conway, but there’s something genuinely infectious about Korman just absolutely losing his shit at the end. Most sketch actors try to stifle their on-camera laughing fits, Korman embraced his.
Heddy… er, Hedley Lamar:
Here it is, Korman’s magnum opus – Hedley Lamar, the unfortunately named arch-villian of Mel Brooks’ classic Blazing Saddles, chewing through his lines with obvious melodramatic glee. Korman’s delivery as he spits out “schhhhmucks” is, after the big bang, probably the most important moment in the history of the universe.