Folks who grew up watching The Carol Burnett Show remember well the side-splitting antics of Tim Conway on this comedy and musical variety show that ran throughout the ‘70s. Conway was a fan favorite, always guaranteed to punch up any character he played, with his awkward expressions and slapstick humor.
In this sketch, Tim plays a hapless, nervous, insecure salesman of cylinder vacuums (remember those?), wearing highwater pants and argyle socks. Vicki Lawrence plays her role as the patient, but unimpressed customer, which puts Tim’s character on edge from the get-go. When she fails to laugh at his lame vacuum cleaner jokes intended to break the ice, he pouts and cries and packs up to leave—until a sympathetic Vicki offers to help.
The tables turn and she’s soon pitching the “Davis 500” vac to Tim, who plops down on her sofa and becomes the customer from hell, critiquing her sales tactics and disparaging the product. When Vicki offers to buy a vac from him anyway, you won’t believe what happens next.
Even when trying to be surly and rude, Tim Conway couldn’t help but make audiences, and often his-costars, crack up. It’s a testament to Vicki Lawrence that she was able to maintain her composure throughout the sketch.
Did you know that she was the only actress on The Carol Burnett Show to be on the series throughout its entire run beside Carol Burnett herself? A lot of fans don’t realize that comedy was Vicki’s second calling and that she started out as a singer in high school, right away earning national acclaim by singing on The Andy Williams Show.
While majoring in theatre at college, she landed her first part on the Carol Burnett Show due to her striking resemblance to Carol, who happened to be looking for someone to play her sister in a sketch. And the rest is comedy history.
“Just the intro music to this sketch takes me back,” one enthusiastic fan commented. “It sounds so peaceful and inviting. I remember watching CBS at my grandma’s on Saturday nights.”
“Now THAT’S a salesman! Make the customer want to show you the product!” commented another. “The Carol Burnett Show, priceless comedy from my youth! I miss those TV days.” Watch Vicki and Tim sell you a roomful of laughs: