Certain bits of television history, like excellent wine, improve with age. That is absolutely true of The Carol Burnett Show’s comedy routine “The Dentist.” It continues to make generations of people laugh, confirming it as one of the greatest television moments of all time.
The Carol Burnett Show won eight Golden Globes and 25 Emmy Awards in just eleven years, and it helped launch the careers of numerous comedians. It’s one of the most prestigious shows in television history.
“The Dentist,” starring Tim Conway and Harvey Korman, has been one of the show’s most popular and funniest bits. This is one of those scenes that you just can’t get out of your head. It’s so fantastic that Conway and Korman can’t stop laughing to get through the sketch.
“The Dentist” is about a patient named Korman who is suffering from a severe toothache. On a Sunday, he goes to the dental office and discovers that his regular dentist is unavailable, although his dentist’s nephew, Conway, is on duty.
Korman will be his first patient after graduating from dentistry school. The nervous dentist does everything to convince his first patient to leave or simply get a cleaning, including telling him he’s only pulled teeth on animals and had Cs in dentistry school. Korman, on the other hand, is in too much misery to worry about all the justifications.
Conway has no option but to consult a handbook and attempt to extract his patient’s tooth. During the procedure, he mistakenly injects Novocain into his hand. The numb hand causes a funny accident after a hilarious mistake. It’s so hilarious that Korman had to cover his face many times to prevent from laughing out of character.
Conway would subsequently claim that Korman was laughing so hard to himself during the scenario that he soiled his pants. He’d also later say that the sketch was inspired by a military dentist he’d met in real life.
The dentist had numbed almost everything except the patient’s mouth and the audience’s laughter by the end of the comedy. Obviously, the farce produced laughter, but you’ll have to wait to discover if the patient’s tooth is ever pulled.
Isn’t it true that everybody can identify with the ridicule of a horrible dental experience? From 1967 until 1978, The Carol Burnett Show managed to generate approachable, clean, non-political comedy that appealed to the public. It’s simple to see why this valuable piece of television history continues to entertain viewers of all ages.