Sunday, January 23, 2005

Thaaaaaaaaaanks Johnny!

One of the true geniuses of the twentieth century died yesterday. Johnny Carson died at the age of 79. I will surely miss him. I truly believe that Johnny Carson was one of the great geniuses of our time. Not a genius in the vain of Einstein or Stephen Hawking, but a genius in the company of Jim Henson and Charles Schulz.

I grew up watching Johnny on the Tonight Show and also re-runs of the Best of Johnny Carson. His interview skills will never be rivalled and his humor will always be remembered. I haven't watched the Tonight Show since Jay Leno took over. It's not funny. I may tune in on random occasion to see a specific guest or guest band, but I can't watch the whole thing. It's painful. I used to watch the Tonight Show just to watch the Tonight Show. I enjoy Conan O'Brien and will watch a whole episode and occasionally David Letterman, but I can't sit through a whole Tonight Show anymore. As much talent as Letterman and Conan may have, they will never touch the genius of Johnny Carson.

Johnny appealed to everyone. He was a gracious interviewer with a quick wit. He could relate to celebrities just as well as "regular" people with potato chip collections. His sketches were funny, especially if he was in them. I'll never forget such great characters as Floyd R. Turbo, Granny, and Carnac (The answers have been hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnell's porch). His moments with Jack Hanna were priceless. It's funny, I was actually thinking about him the other day and how no one will ever claim the late-night throne from the king. He was apparently a very private person off the set, which is something to respect. I didn't grow up watching Steve Allen or Jack Parr, I grew up watching Johnny, and I'm sure glad I did. He was one of the funniest people in America with broad appeal. He was everything that television should be...respectful, smart, funny, and ENTERTAINING! I mentioned before that I've met a lot of celebrities, but one of the highlights was meeting Doc Severensen. The chemistry between Doc, Ed, Tommy Newsome, and Johnny was electric. The chemistry was special and real. No one has been able to capture that since and I don't know that anyone will. Johnny did his last broadcast in 1992, but his memory will live on forever as all of the current late-night hosts will rightfully nod with respect to the ONLY one that really mattered.

The final curtain may have closed on the life of Johnny Carson, but his legacy will live on in the hearts of millions. I hope that there's a golf-course wherever he is. Thanks for the laughs. Thanks for the memories. We'll miss you, Johnny.


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