Pop Culture Gadabout
Monday, January 24, 2005
      ( 1/24/2005 05:42:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"WHEN GUESTS ARE BORING, HE FILLS UP THE SLACK" – I was a kid and a teenager when Johnny Carson was at his peak, an era when his name was synonymous with "late night." And, while being able to stay up to see The Tonight Show was a mark of fabulous adulthood, I never became a fan. Watching the show to me was a bit like being on a family visit with relatives who didn't have any kids: you listened to the chatter for a while, hoping to glean something about the mysteries of being an adult, but after a while your mind began to wander. When I was of an age to finally be able to stay up and watch the man on my own, the show looked corny to me. I gravitated toward marginally "hipper" late night fare with less staying power: Dick Cavett or Geraldo Rivera, say (back when the latter had no pretense of being a journalist and brought guests like then-father-in-law Kurt Vonnegut onto his show). When I'd check in on Tonight, it more often was because it had a guest host (like Orson Welles – or the Smothers Brothers) who interested me.

My best memory of Carson from the audience (check Mark Evanier's site for an imposing series of critical and show biz takes) was from an appearance on The Jack Benny Show. (Carson was indebted to Benny in many ways: he learned from the comedian's timing, while Benny's teevee producer also became a fixture on Tonight.) In it, Carson played a robot version of himself: a joke arising from the punishing schedule he had in his early years as a talk show host. Perhaps that episode, which I most likely saw before I actually viewed a Tonight Show, influenced my response to him. There always seemed to be something vaguely unreal and Teflon-like about Johnny Carson.

In the end, of course, my Boomer-esque take on the man doesn't amount to a hill of beans when stacked against the millions of Americans who made his show a nightly ritual. The guy had the sense to retire when his audience was still wanting more – and the class to stick to that retirement. In that, he was pretty darn unique. . .

NOTE: For the full lyrics to Brian Wilson's wholly heartfelt Beach Boys Love You tribute to "Johnny Carson," which is reffed in this post's heading, check out Johnny Bacardi's site.

UPDATE: Moderate Voice Joe Gandelman has a fine appreciation of Carson, his influence and comic delivery style over at his place.
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter