Where do I begin?
I was 12 years old. It was New Year’s Eve and I was getting to stay up late. We only had three channels to watch on TV, (cable had not come to Caledonia, MS yet) and I was not interested in whatever New Year’s Eve show my parents were watching.
And then I found it, there was a guy on stage in a “loud” jacket, telling jokes on Channel 9. I had “discovered” Johnny Carson.
90 minutes of adults sitting on a couch, laughing, telling stories, and I’m sure saying things I never knew existed. I was hooked. From that moment on, my bed time changed.
I stayed up late. I bought a small tape recorder and some cassettes. I wrapped the microphone cord around the television dial and let the mike hang at the TV speaker level; and I recorded hours of Johnny’s monologues.
“Did you hear about this? I read this today in the newspaper. A man went in to the hospital…he went into the hospital for hemorrhoid surgery…(nervous laughter from the audience)..well yes..he went in for hemorrhoid surgery and the doctors…the doctors accidentally fixed his nose….(the audience starts to roar)..now wait…wait..everything is okay, the guy is fine, but…you should see him now, when this guy smells a flower” (more roaring laughter)
Johnny Carson was the single greatest reason that I wanted to be a stand up
comedian. And what’s more, I was to find out he started as a magician and a ventriloquist. That was even better.
I have a list of people that I always wanted to meet. I had wanted to meet Johnny. I had hoped early in my life, that I might have had the chance to sit on “the couch” next him. That never came to be. And now with his death; if I ever do become famous, I will never get the chance. But that takes nothing away from what I learned from years of watching The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
And now straight from a mayonnaise jar underneath the porch of Funk and Wagnall’s, I hold in my hand the last envelope.
:::holds envelope to forehead::::
“Aunt Blabby, Carnac, Art Fern, Johnny Carson”
“Whose humor will always be enduring and endearing?”
Good Night, Johnny