A couple weeks ago, author, actor, and humorist John Hodgman was the guest on NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” As I listened to John and host Peter Sagal, John’s simple, polite, and deadpan delivery of often ludicrous responses to Peter’s questions reminded me very strongly of an old comedy album of my dad’s that I listened to time and time again growing up, where ABC television announcer Ernie Anderson plays straight man to comedian Tim Conway in a series of interviews.

Tim Conway and Ernie Anderson: Are We On?Here, then, is that album, recorded to .mp3 from the very album that I grew up listening to. You can listen to or download the tracks individually or grab the full album as a 47Mb .zip file. Enjoy! The whole album is quite funny and worth downloading, but if you want to sample, my particular favorites are “Do You Fly Much?”, “Boy”, and “The Baseball Coordinator”.

  1. Do You Fly Much? (3.8Mb .mp3)
  2. Boy (5.1Mb .mp3)
  3. Dr. Herford (6.3Mb .mp3)
  4. Matchmaker (5.8Mb .mp3)
  5. Race Car Driver (6.8Mb .mp3)
  6. King Anderson of Parma (4.7Mb .mp3)
  7. The Warden (5.1Mb .mp3)
  8. The Baseball Coordinator (4.7Mb .mp3)
  9. The Swiss Astronaut (4.8Mb .mp3)

As a bonus: this is one of the funniest Tim Conway bits I’ve ever seen. An outtake from the Carol Burnett Show, Tim won’t let the sketch go on until he’s done telling his elephant stories…

Liner notes for the ‘Are We On?’ album after the jump:Steve Allen: If I ever decide to retire as a performer, I plan to make a living writing record album liner notes for people who got their start, or received their most meaningful exposure, on one or another of my television programs. As I suppose is common knowledge, this company includes such funny folk as Don Knotts, Louis Nye, Tom Poston, Gabe Dell, Pat Harrington, Jr., Dayton Allen, Bill Dana, Don Adams, Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Jackie Vernon, Jackie Mason, The Smothers Brothers, Jim Nabors, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, and a few others whose names I’m a cinch to recall about twenty minutes after these pages go to press.

Among the singers there were Andy Williams, Eydie Gorme, Steve Lawrence, Lou Rawls, Miriam Makeba, Marilyn Maye, Jack Jones, and–well, if you want to go back a bit, the regular girl-singer on our old afternoon show on CBS in the early 50’s was Peggy Lee.

None of these luminaries, it seems to me, are more talented than the young man whose humor is here displayed for the first time on record–Tim Conway. Tim was brought to my attention a few years ago by Rosemarie, who had just seen him on Station WJW-TV in Cleveland. I sent for a video-tape, watched literally two minutes of it, and immediately issued instructions to add Tim to our regular TV company. Since the only person in the room at the moment was the janitor, my instructions meant nothing, but Conway eventually came out to Hollywood anyway.

On the strength of his great work that season he was hired not long thereafter by the producers of “McHale’s Navy,” and subsequently added many a laugh to that enjoyable show. More recently he has been the star of his own comedy western series “Rango.”

Because he’s a gifted comic actor, Conway never looks bad, even when he is given less-than-inspired material. But I think that, like many great humorists, he is at his best doing his own stuff, as he does in this collection. I played straight for Tim when he did some of these routines on TV. Even though I’m very familiar with them, this album still makes me laugh.

When you hear it, you’ll know what I mean.

Tim Conway: If you know Ernie Anderson, don’t read this. Ernie is my straight man, that is if you find the material I do funnier than his material. Many years ago I directed Ernie on a local TV show called, “Ernie’s Place.” We would announce such guests as the Mayor of Cleveland who would be appearing on his show that day. Not long after the announcement the Mayor would call and say, “I wouldn’t appear on that show if it….” We would hang up. Moments lator, for lack of a Mayor, I would appear as Ernie’s guest, Dag Herferd, The Mayor. We continued doing this until Steve Allen swept me to Hollywood, an unusual way of traveling by the way. Ernie remained in Cleveland interviewing himself and became very successful. he became Cleveland’s number one personality, but decided to leave all the tinsel and glitter of Cleveland to come to Hollywood. He’s an old announcing pro dating back to the days of the disc jockey. Now he is an actor and my straight man. Since you now know him you won’t have to read this again.

Ernie Anderson: Tim Conway is the funniest man I know, and I’ve known some funny ones, like: Don Rumbaugh, Woody Frasier, Chet Collier, Jack B. Riley, Iggie McIntyre, Linn Sheldon, Big Wilson, Al and Pat, Ronnie Barret, Ann Elder, Chuck Shodowski, Gary Collins, Arron Fox, Ralph Hansen, and a real funny guy, Marty Hawthorne.

Recorded at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio.

Liberty Records LRP-3512