Full screen

An Interesting Tale of Merit of Personal Integrity and honor a tale of two men

I’ve read a few books about Carson, Letterman and the ’70s stand-up comedy boom. From what I have gathered, a number of comics would admit that, while they thought Jay Leno was a master stand-up comic, he also was a bit of a back-stabber and snake when it came to his actions regarding the Tonight Show, both at the beginning and at the end.

Jay hired a ruthless agent and manager who did things like plant fake stories in the news and deliberately talk BS about people behind their backs to executives to bring others (particularly Letterman) down and put Jay where he wanted to be. For his part, Jay once went so far as to hide in a closet to spy on a network meeting to put himself in a more advantageous position with respect to the Tonight Show. It worked, he got the show, but I think he burned a lot of bridges with other comics in the process, including Johnny Carson. The book “The Late Shift” chronicles all of this in pretty good detail.

Leno also has had a reputation for being fairly pedestrian in his comedy (meaning not groundbreaking, which is a tag often assigned to Letterman, conversely), and a reputation for stealing or “borrowing” a lot of his material from other comics. Some of the bits he used on his version of the Tonight Show (for example his famous “headlines” bit) were first done by Letterman on his show.

Carson, for his part, largely stayed out of Leno’s way once it became clear that he wasn’t going to be consulted on the decision of who would replace him. He wanted Letterman to get the show, but nobody asked him and he left NBC pretty angry about that. But he didn’t make a public fuss about it because that wasn’t his style. I think that gained him respect, unlike Jay, who publicly, shamelessly campaigned for the job.

Other comics also revered Carson because, especially in the early days of the 1970s, he had the power to make their careers and he did make many. They’d go on Carson and suddenly everyone knew their name and they would get offers to perform all around the country, or for TV shows. This is how people like Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers and even Letterman made their names. This simply wasn’t true by the time Jay Leno took the show in 1992.

While Johnny was a stand-up guy in some ways, he could also have a very angry, petty side. When Joan Rivers left for another network without telling him, he never spoke to her again.

Jay, though, was a lot more subtle in his back-stabbing. His actions at the end, after he passed the baton to Conan, also led a lot of comics (particularly those who loved Conan) to think less of him. Instead of simply stepping aside and letting his successor take over (as Carson had done with him), he hung around and ultimately snuck back in. That rubbed a LOT of people in the comedy world the wrong way, and rightfully so.

So, overall, comics largely loved and respected Johnny Carson because of the way he helped and treated them. They largely thought Jay was funny, but also was a bit of a weasel in his interactions regarding the Tonight Show.

Duchon Signs Signing the Nation

Article Source :
Want to create own pages and collaborate?
Start your free account today:
By clicking “Sign up”, you agree to our Terms and Conditions