Good Times for Tim Allen -- The ''Home Improvement'' leading man was named TV's funniest actor

”I love to make people laugh,” Tim Allen says. ”Anyone! All the time!” So what’s his reaction to being named TV’s funniest actor on America’s favorite sitcom, ABC’s Home Improvement? ”This popularity scares me s—less!” he jokes. ”They’re probably building me up so they can tear me down.”

The construction metaphor is apt. As the less-than-handy handyman Tim Taylor, Allen seems to have tapped into a primordial urge of the American male. ”Do you know any guys who wouldn’t want to, for once, know how to fix something in their house?” Allen asks. ”And have it work? Any man would.”

The 39-year-old comic, who spends the off-season in Michigan with his wife, Laura, and 2-year-old daughter, Kady, wasn’t sure America would love him after they learned about problems in his past. Last summer Allen revealed he had spent two years in jail after a 1977 cocaine-trafficking arrest. He waited for the fallout, but there wasn’t any: Improvement debuted near the top of the ratings and stayed there.

Now that Allen is a success, he says he has put his life in perspective. ”I have the Jeep I always wanted, and some binoculars. Little things,” he concludes wistfully, ”mean a lot to me.” But as Allen’s career rockets skyward, the operative word is big.