Warner Theatre janitors must have broken out the shovels to clean up the leftover nostalgia after Tim Conway and Harvey Korman's visit to the venue on Thursday night.
Such was the interest in the comedic septuagenarians that the Warner added a second performance of their reunion act, "Together Again," which has been making a successful tour around the country.
Ticket buyers who flocked to 13th and E streets NW in hopes of a trip down memory lane were not disappointed. The now white-haired duo reprised the shtick and Novocain jokes from their tried-and-true dentist sketch, Conway put in an appearance as the diminutive golfer Dorf, and bits of solo stand-up by each of the men established a cozy but slightly wistful rapport with the audience. The pervasive atmosphere of pop culture on mothballs proved once again that when we love TV personalities, we love them forever.
That's not to say that Conway and Korman are in denial about the passage of time: When the two wield mikes in the non-skit segments, a good 60 percent of the wisecracks pivot on the topic of aging. For someone Korman's age, taking Viagra would be "like putting a brand-new flagpole on an endangered building," the tuxedo-clad comedian quips in his opening monologue, after good-humoredly complaining about his knees, his back, his arthritis, his bursitis, the spots on his skin and his daily difficulties climbing into his underwear. "I've eaten so much roughage, I'm passing wicker furniture," grumbles Conway in one of innumerable scatological jokes that make light of bodily unreliability.
The humor is a little zanier in the skits, especially in Conway's delicious re-creation, with the aid of a gray fright wig, of his doddering old man character, whose bureaucratic turn as an airline clerk in this case infuriates Korman's impatient traveler. Airlines come in for a lot of ragging in "Together Again," perhaps because Korman and Conway feel particularly comfortable poking fun at topics that have a modern aura without actually being topical or cutting edge.
Amtrak could well do worse than to sign on as a sponsor of the "Together Again" tour, which is scheduled into 2005.
As long as the two men hold sway, their show proves reasonably entertaining. Unfortunately, though, they have given over a large portion of stage time to the impressionist Louise DuArt, who indulges in loud, unanchored celebrity spoofs that seem to have no point whatsoever beyond giving her co-stars a rest. Cher, George Burns, Barbara Walters, Barbra Streisand, Bart Simpson, Tweety Bird -- they all suffer indignities at the hands of DuArt, who in one particular ghastly sequence poses as Katharine Hepburn doing Borscht Belt humor in the Catskills.
In the words of Tim Conway, "In a very basic sense, comedy is very negative and very cruel . . . the cruelest of all forms of drama." Acting on this principle, he and Korman should pink-slip their bouncy castmate, even if it means slimming their 90-minute production down to 50 minutes. The move might be cruel, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.