NBC is reporting that Johnny Carson has died.

I really feel sorry for people who weren’t old enough to see and appreciate Carson while he was still on the air. He was just So. Damn. Good. His successors, on every network, are decidedly pale reflections, and I doubt any of them would seriously argue that Carson was head and shoulders above anybody else who’s ever hosted a talk show, anywhere. His blend of great good humor, high taste, low comedy, and refusal to condescend to anybody, regardless of who they were or where they came from, almost certainly can’t be duplicated in today’s mass media.

Now he’ll be missed even more. RIP.


31 Responses to “Johnny”

  1. azlibertarian Says:

    Its interesting that this week we heard that he’d been writing an occassional joke for Letterman. You’re right: Carson was great–much better than Leno, IMO, but as always YMMV.

    [BTW…your link to the MSNBC story has his name misspelled.]

  2. Stephen Green Says:

    Aw, crap.

    I grew up on Carson. An insomniac, even as a kid, I considered it a treat whenever I could stay up late enough to watch.

    Didn’t understand much of his monologues at first – was just too young to. But I loved the sketches, Karnak, etc. Got older, started getting the jokes, and watched pretty much religiously.

    So much so, that I never forgave NBC for ditching Carson’s handpicked successor (Letterman) for Jay Leno. Leno’s standup used to be funny, but on network TV he has all the excitement of Miracle Whip on Wonder Bread without even so much as a slice of bologna.

    But even Dave could never fill Johnny’s shoes. He was one of a kind.

  3. Stephen Green Says:

    One more thing.

    What Carson did better than anyone before or after him was recover from a bad joke.

    Once during each monologue, he’d tell a stinker. Just something amazingly unfunny. The audience wouldn’t react, but Johnny would. He’d grin, look down, look over, and say something so hysterically funny that the audience came right back to him. Every time.

    He must’ve made sure there was at least one bomb in every monologue, because watching him recover was often the best part of the show.

  4. Frank Martin Says:

    I wonder how many people are alive today who were conceived under the dim light of a tv tuned to the johnny carson show.

  5. The MUSC Tiger Says:

    Johnny Carson, Dead at 79

    From the AP:
    Johnny Carson, the “Tonight Show” TV host who served America a smooth nightcap of celebrity banter, droll comedy and heartland charm for 30 years, has died. He was 79.

    “Mr. Carson passed away peacefully early Sunday morning,…

  6. Pajama Hadin Says:

    The blogosphere mourns the loss of Johnny Carson

    Tributes to Johnny Carson:

    Johnny Carson has died at 79. He was talented, a class act and will be missed.

    La Shawn Barber: Johnny Carson, 1925-2005
    C/Net News: Net mourns death of Johnny Carson
    DCeit: Johnny Carson Dies at 79
    Little Green F…

  7. Dave Says:

    Sex with the TV on? Is nothing sacred anymore?


    Johnny Carson We Hardly Knew Ye

    There are about to be several million words written and published about Johnny Carson but Will Collier at Vodkapundit pretty much says it all in 97 words: I really feel sorry for people who weren’t old enough to see and appreciate Carson while he was s…

  9. Speed of Thought.. Says:

    I loved Johnny Carson

    RIP Johnny…

  10. What Attitude Problem? Says:

    JOHNNY CARSON: 1926-2005 Johnny Carson, the

  11. Pajama Pundits Says:

    Johnny Carson, RIP

    I remember the thrill of occasionally being allowed to stay up late and watch The Tonight Show. Johnny Carson was always funny, even (perhaps especially) when one of his jokes bombed. His wit had grace, style, and class… three elements

  12. ISOU Says:

    Memories Of Johnny

    What do I remember the most about Johnny? Probably the fact that he was so universally liked, and was such an “icon,” before that term even became popular. I remember watching the tonight show as a kid with my…

  13. dorkafork Says:

    He wasn’t just a great talk show host, he was the definitive talk show host. There’s a certain large age group who remembers Carson as part of the dividing line between childhood and adulthood. You’d hear the intro music, see that multi-colored curtain, and you’d know you were up past your bedtime. And if you were good you’d get the treat of watching the monologue, and peek into that adult world, and get to laugh with the grown-ups.

  14. GruntDoc Says:

    Johnny Carson

    I was going to write about his passing, then read a post, and the following comments, that say what I would, could I write:Vodkapundit – Johnny. Fair winds and following seas, sailor….

  15. Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah's Military Guys.. Says:

    Ahh, Johnny, God Speed and Fare Well.

    And if you’re headed South, you can use one of my chits at Fiddler’s Green on the way down. Least I can do – you made it possible for my mother to get to sleep those 478 long, lonely nights…

  16. dorkafork Says:

    And here’s a sadly wonderful picture.

  17. Powerpundit Says:

    The King Of Late Night Is Gone

    ” src=”” width=”352″ height=”450″ /> Rest in peace, Johnny. I miss him. Late night will NEVER be the same again. UPDATE: An obituary by Sid Smith. (Via Powerline) Johnny sent jokes to David Letterman from t…

  18. Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah's Military Guys.. Says:

    Ahh, Johnny, God Speed and Fare Well.

    And if you’re headed South, you can use one of my chits at Fiddler’s Green on the way down. Least I can do – you made it possible for my mother to get to sleep those 478 long, lonely nights…

  19. Sandy P Says:

    I have the 1965 fundraiser tape off of HBO when Frank, Sammy, Dean were in St. Louis.

    Johnny hosted and could barely get a word in edgewise. He truly was the 2nd banana.

  20. Diggers Realm Says:

    Johnny Carson Dead At 79

    Johnny Carson has died at the age of 79. He will be missed. not only did he have a great sense of humor, but he gave many a struggling actor and comedian a break. Yahoo/AP Johnny Carson, the “Tonight Show”…

  21. RandMan Says:

    Karnak: Sisss Boom Baa

    Ed: Sisss Boom Baa

    Karnak: What does an exploding sheep sound like?

    Carson was always fun. RIP.

  22. Myopist Says:

    Favorite Karnak moment:

    The question that he got – and I can’t remember whether this was a surprise to him – was “Have you ever paid for sex?” As I recall, this was right after his extremely messy divorce.

    He looked right at the camera and said “And paid, and paid, and paid.”

    I still grin at that. Rest well, Johnny – and I hope that, wherever you are now, you’ve gotten a good agent already.

  23. Joan Says:

    I’m glad I’m old enough to remember Carson. The man had class, and even during the silliest skits, he retained his essential dignity, however much of a contradiction that may seem.

    Compared to Carson, Letterman seems to be lodged in eternal puberty. Yeah, I’ll laugh at jokes targeted to 12-year-olds, but I’d like to hear something else occasionally, too — and Letterman’s interviews suck. I don’t mind Leno so much — his interviews are marginally better than Letterman’s — but he’s no Carson.

    Eh. I rarely watch any of of ’em anymore, I’m having too much fun in the blogosphere. More wit, fewer commercials.

  24. Dr. Fager Says:

    He was at his funniest when he didn’t say a word. He’d just look into the camera with a certain expression on his face. I believe he learned this from Jack Benny.

    Also, the “recovery” referred to above was stylized very specifically. The joke would bomb, Johnny would look over at the orchestra, they would begin playing “Tea For Two”, and Johnny would tap dance.

  25. scout29c Says:

    I learned many things from Carson, having grown up in a small town out in the middle of no where, but the most important was that spontaneous humor is the best. I never laughed as much at the skits, or routines, or guest comedians as I did when Johnny had a quick line from out of no where. That’s why he could tell bad jokes — he recovered so well.

    Topical spontaneous humor when talking to a guest was what he did better than anyone else before or since.

  26. alex Says:

    “I will if you’ll move that damn cat!”

  27. Sandy P Says:

    Rickles breaking his box when Rickles sat in for him.

  28. Sandy P Says:

    Burt Reynolds in leather, Dom DeLouise and the whipped cream.

  29. Alan K. Henderson Says:

    See exploding sheep meme (with link to Carnac “sisss boom baa” video!)

    Art Fern fansite here – or take take the Ventura Freeway until you get to THE FORK IN THE ROAD.

    Meanwhile, stay tuned for our next feature, with Charles Johnson, John Glenn, Glenn Close, Glenn Reynolds, Burt Reynolds, and Fiskie the Wonder Lizard in “Dan Rather’s Telepromptor Gets Hacked By A Blogger.”

    Speaking of CBS…Carson’s skit on Cronkite’s retirement is a classic. “Enough of the tickety-tickety sound,” he says as you hear the signature typewriter sounds in the background.

  30. Alan K. Henderson Says:

    Oops, the exploding sheep entry is here.

  31. Stephen Says:

    “…oo hoo hoo Matinee Lady…I’ll bet you do!

    …and now back to our feature: Alice Fay, Faye Raye, Alan Mobray and Rex the Wonder Carp in Beach Blanket Foreplay!”

    Anybody think they know how the “wonder animal” business got started? (early LA TV trivia)

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