|A Barbara Walters Special-|
The title of The King of Late Night is all you need to know about Johnny Carson. Because that is exactly what he is and still is and still the standard that late night hosts and comedians that interview famous people have tried to live up to ever since. Because he was not only a comedian, but an informed comedian who knew the people and topics he commented on and joked about. Because of the work he put into it. He’s the one comedian that both David Letterman and Jay Leno and you can add Conan O’Brien to that list, of comedians/talk show hosts, that have tried to be the next Johnny Carson, or at least be as good as the man who is still the standard when it comes to late-night talk shows.
As Johnny Carson put it to Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes in 1979, his show wasn’t a political talk show, or a current affairs talk show. But a show that covered those things in order to make fun of them. Carson was of course interested in politics and current affairs and I’m sure like most comedians who joke about those things do. But his show wasn’t Meet The Press or Face The Nation. It was a show that made fun of what went on in the world. He made fun of a lot of politicians and public servants, because they tend to make the most news. At least the most important news. That at least pre-reality TV and 24 hours of tabloid TV, tended to lead the national network newscasts.
As far as Johnny Carson being shy, I think that is fascinating. Because he’s a man whose one of the best comedians we’ve ever had. Whose great in public and great at doing his act and someone who was very good at interviewing other people and even doing it from a serious standpoint. And getting his guests to tell him things that they perhaps haven’t told others. And yet he’s somewhat reserved and shy when in private. And perhaps only tells his close friends his real personal feelings and what he’s going through. I would think someone so open in public would also be open in private, because that is the person that they’re accustomed to being.And yet there are two different sides to Johnny Carson.
The thing that I guess like and respect most about Johnny Carson, is that he was always Johnny Carson. He was knew himself better than anyone else and didn’t know anyone else as well and knew that. Which is why he didn’t try to be anyone else. He saw himself purely as an entertainer and comedian. Not a journalist whose also funny. Which would be a great way to describe Barbara Walters and Mike Wallace. Two journalists with excellent sense of humors. Johnny knew his job was to make people laugh and entertain them. Not to tell them what to think and what should be important to them. But to make fun of the world and the funny people in it.