Thursday, August 18, 2005

Goodbye to the king of late night

Earlier this year we lost Johnny Carson, who in my opinion, was the best entertainer in the history of television. For 30 years, from 1962 to 1992, Johnny was part of our lives and he captivated us with his wit and charm. Unlike many hosts today, he actually listened to his guests and cared about showcasing them, rather than himself. Countless young comedians got their start by appearing on Johnny's show. David Letterman, Roseanne, Ellen Degeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling and many others credit The Tonight Show for launching their careers. The boisterous Ed McMahon and the trumpet virtuoso Doc Severinsen were great sidekicks who added a lot to the feel of the show. Carson grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska and had an interest in entertaining at a young age. As a child he put on magic shows and would sometimes do card tricks on The Tonight Show. When Carson retired, he wanted David Letterman to take over. But he was overruled by the NBC executives who instead hired the unfunny, but non-controversial Jay Leno. It's a shame that a show that had been hosted by Jack Paar, Steve Allen and Johnny Carson would be turned over to someone like Leno. He doesn't listen to his guests, he's not funny, and he mercilessly kisses up to his guests. David Letterman would have been a much better choice for Johnny's replacement. Letterman has had a late night show on NBC from 1982 to 1993, and he has been on CBS since 1993. So, he's 7 years shy of Johnny's 30 years in late night. Conan O'Brien, who has had his show on NBC since he replaced Letterman in 1993, will take over for Leno in 2009. Conan was previously a writer for Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons, and he should be a good replacement for Leno. A Harvard graduate, O'Brien has a flair for comedy and he makes his interviews entertaining with his funny observations.
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