Harvey Korman: More Than a Second Banana

Mel Brooks and Carol Burnett regular was an underrated master
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2008 1:48 PM CDT
Harvey Korman: More Than a Second Banana
In this 1978 file photo originally provided by NBC, Buddy Hackett, portraying Lou Costello, left, and Harvey Korman, portraying Bud Abbott, go through their routine for the TV film, "Bud and Lou."   (AP Photo/NBC, file)

Harvey Korman was sometimes described as the “quintessential second banana,” and he did indeed make his name in supporting roles. But Korman, who died this week at 81, was a special second banana. For Mel Brooks, he became the perfect scheming underling, hilariously worming his way through movie after movie. On the Carol Burnett show, he was renowned for cracking up at others’ gags.

“Understand this: It is a generous act by a comic actor to let the audience see him break character,” writes Frank Ahrens of the Washington Post. “That means he is comfortable enough in his skin to let the other actor have his moment. And Korman knew that sometimes the best way to get someone else to laugh is simply to let them see you doing it.” (More obituary stories.)

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