Johnny Carson, the man who shared more of our bedrooms than any other late night entertainer has died from emphysema – an unfortunate result of smoking all those years. Recent photos showed him looking overweight because he finally kicked the smoking habit, but apparently it was too little too late (although he did live to a ripe old age of 79).
So here’s the paradox. You stop smoking to avoid dying of cancer or lung disease, but you get fat and run the risk of stroke and heart disease. What a conundrum. Death sucks.
I recall watching Johnny as a young child. Sitting on the family sofa and watching my parents laugh, not quite understanding the jokes myself, but joining in the laughter just the same. When I became an adult I watched the show occasional out of curiosity (or insomnia), but not really becoming a steady fan. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but like the man and I am sad to see him go.
Watching the news interviews of those who knew him, some would say the man was a saint. While others (like Dick Cavett who worked for him as a writer) say he could be tough. The truth I’m certain lies somewhere in between.
What I recall the most about the man and his humour was his telepathic turban-toting character known as “Carnac The Magnificent”, who could divine answers to questions sealed in envelopes. If the audience booed any of Carnac’s responses, he would fight back saying something like:
A typical skit would open with announcer Ed McMahon stating “I have in my hand an envelope, a child of four can plainly see these envelopes are hermetically sealed. They’ve been kept since noon today in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnalls’ porch. No one-but one!-knows its contents. In his mystical and borderline way, Carnac will now ascertain the answers having never heard the questions.” Carnac then placed the white envelopes to his forehead to sense the answers to the questions within. The following are some examples of the answer/question exchanges:
Answer: The Moonies.
Question: Name the religion that drops its pants?;
Answer: The Zip Code.
Question: What do CIA agents have to remember to go to the bathroom?
Answer: A pair of Jordache jeans and a bread box. Question: Name two places where you stuff your buns?;
Question: Describe Oprah Winfrey in High School;
Question: What do you get on your Fon if you leave it out all night?;
Answer: Ben Gay.
Question: Why didn’t Ben Franklin didn’t have any children?
When the announcer Ed McMahon said, “I hold in my hand…the last envelope.” The audience usually cheered, as if to say “Thank God this skit is over.”
Like yours truly, you also must have your own cherished memories of Johnny Carson. Whatever they are no doubt you will share my sense of loss as we reflect on the passing of a TV icon. There goes Johnny.Powered by Sidelines