Comedy – 1982 – Tonight Show – Johnny Carson And Dom Deluise


There has really been only one real King of Late Night Television ….of which he ruled for 30 years from 1962 to 1992 as the lead host for late night viewing at CBS…and that was Johnny Carson and his nightly sidekick, Ed McMahon….along with the Doc Severinsen Orchestra.  

Johnny Carson was an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer….who is best known as the host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962–1992)….for which he received six Emmy Awards….the Television Academy’s 1980 Governor’s Award….and a 1985 Peabody Award….who was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987…. plus, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992….and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993…..dang near every voting age American of the Baby Boomer Generation grew up with Johnny Carson in their living rooms and bedrooms at the end of every workday before turning out the lights for a good night’s sleep.  

Although Johnny Carson’s show was already successful by the end of the 1960’s…..it was during the 1970’s that Carson became an American icon and remained so even after his retirement in 1992….as he adopted a casual, conversational approach with extensive interaction with guests….which was an approach pioneered by Arthur Godfrey and previous Tonight Show hosts Steve Allen and Jack Paar. 

Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show established the modern format of the late-night talk show….by opening with a  monologue that is sprinkled with a rapid-fire series of 16 to 22 one-liners….as Carson had a rule of no more than three on the same subject…. which was followed by sketch comedy….then moving on to guest interviews and performances by musicians and stand-up comedians. During the early years of Carson’s tenure, his guests included politicians such as former U.S. Vice President and future U.S. President, Richard M. Nixon….former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy….and Vice President Hubert Humphrey….then by 1970, Carson primarily interviewed as guests people that had a book, movie, television show, or stage performance to promote….as other regulars were selected for their entertainment or information value….in contrast to those who offered more cerebral conversation…. as Carson refused to discuss politics on The Tonight Show out of concern it might alienate his audience.  

Carson’s preference for access to Hollywood stars caused the show’s move to the West Coast on May 1, 1972….and when asked about intellectual conversation on The Tonight Show….Carson and his staff invariably cited Carl Sagan, Paul Ehrlich, Margaret Mead, Gore Vidal, Shana Alexander, Madalyn Murray O’Hair as guests….to which one television critic stated, however, “he always presented them as if they were spinach for your diet when he did [feature such names]”.  Family therapist Carlfred Broderick appeared on the show ten times…. while psychologist Joyce Brothers was one of Carson’s most frequent guests. Carson, in general, did not feature prop comedy acts….albeit he was not averse to using prop comedy himself….so, such acts, with comedian Gallagher being a prominent example….more commonly appeared when guest hosts were at the helm of the program when Johnny was away.

This video is a clip that features Johnny with guest Dom Deluise….who was a frequent guest on the show that Carson obviously liked….whom he also found to be funny….which provides a wonderful look back at why so many Americans went to bed with Johnny Carson.

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