I was channel-surfing during commercials of the Eagles/Falcons game. (Guys, women find this to be very attractive. The bride lunges at me every time I do this!) I came across MSNBC, and saw Johnny Carson's face with the years 1925 - 2005 below it. The bride was reading a book and I said, "Oh, no, Johnny Carson died!" We were both sad to see and hear this. We watched some various clips from his show and laughed. Later in the day, I realized something: as much as I enjoyed The Tonight Show when Johnny was on, I actually held a little bit of resentment towards Mr. Carson. Although the problem wasn't really with Johnny Carson.....
For three years, my sophmore, junior and senior years at ETSU, my roommate Chris and I would put off studying every night. We'd have dinner, hang out with friends or dates, then end up back in the room sometime during the evening. We'd open our books and attempt to study with the television on. Eventually, he'd move from the desk to his bunk, and I'd move from the desk to my bunk. We appeared to be studying, but the television actually held our attention. The news would come on, and we'd "take a break" to watch the sports. After the news, we'd turn WCYB channel 5 to watch Carson. One of us would always say, "OK, we'll watch Johnny, then we'll study." We'd watch and laugh at/with the guests and skits. Before we knew it, it was 12:30, and Letterman was coming on. "OK," one of us would always say, "after Letterman, we'll start studying." It would soon be 1:30, and one of us would say, "I'm too tired to study, I'd going to sleep." This went on 90% of the time on Monday through Thursday nights for three years. One could easily come away with a simple assumption - Johnny Carson and David Letterman were responsible for my poor grades in college. Yeah, I wouldn't stick with that too long if I were you.
Watching Johnny Carson was a tradition with Chris and me. Whenever I think of The Tonight Show, I aways think of Johnny, not Jay. I get up so early now that I rarely stay up to see either The Tonight Show or David Letterman during the week. Occasionally I'll watch Dave on Friday nights. Of the two, I think Letterman's style is closer to that of Johnny's. If you like the whole thing of how Letterman and Leno jockeyed for the Carson job, and to find out how Johnny felt about who he wanted his successor to be, see the movie The Late Shift.
Thanks for the laughs, Johnny. You will be missed.