I was just a kid. Not old enough to know anything, but old enough to know something. Old enough to know that if I made goofy faces and danced like a monkey my mom would laugh. Or my brother. My dad too. Every once in a while I’d get the neighbors, but it could be a tough crowd sometimes. Still, I was old enough to know what it meant to get a laugh.
I knew it was special.
Growing up, my parent’s bedroom was just off the hallway next to my room. If their door was open and my door was open, I could hear the t.v. on late at night. And with my brother’s room being the opposite end of the hallway from my parents, I could sneak out of my room without having to pass his. It was an ideal situation.
The theme music to The Tonight Show for years was the most unmistakable music around. Doc Severinsen would strike up the band, and immediately from down the hallway I knew that was my cue. Like a WWI Army Private I would crawl on my belly from my room to the edge of the door of my parent’s room. I was lucky that I could actually lie on the floor inside the room and still not be seen.
But I needed to be in position by the time I heard Ed McMahon announce “Heeeere’s JOHNNY!” so I wouldn’t miss a minute of the monologue…my favorite part.
It was all I could do every night to keep from giggling so hard I might give up my position in the trenches.
Years later I was able to stay up late and watch Johnny Carson without having to sneak around. Though the monologue was always my favorite part, I still remember the way he spoke with guests of the show. Carson remains the only comedian and talk show host who allowed his guests to get the biggest laughs. He reveled in it. It is what made him so revered. It is why he is still the KING.
His humor wasn’t pushing envelopes. It wasn’t controversial, rude or crass. It was honest and funny and most importantly…clever. He always got that twinkle in his eye when he unleashed a really good joke. Like he knew he was on to something special.
That mischievous grin was PRICELESS…
Though he may not have been a saint in his personal life, he was a noted philanthropist and loyal friend. He was a passionate entertainer. No, he may not have been a saint, but he was a good man. And onscreen, he was the best. The best of all of them. The funniest, most generous and respected…
Still the King.