1.25.2005

A stiff, a riff, and the miffed.

Apparently over at Teachout's blog the readers are all pissed because Teachout didn't love Carson enough. He's entitled, people! My own views are closer to his co-blogger Hockey Girl 1, who says:

...My parents watched him, but by the time I was staying up that late there was Letterman, whose first NBC show I'd watch after my parents had gone to bed. So I have a certain nostalgia-once-removed for Carson's Tonight Show. It was the show I mildly looked forward to being old enough to watch, but whose appeal had dwindled and been displaced by the time I was.

That seems right to me. If you're under 45 or so Carson existed mostly as someone who was on vacation (and somebody once told me his writers only worked when he did; sweet, if true). Watching the clips you really see a master at the odd skill of talk-show hosting, but, like today's fans of Ken Griffey Jr., we didn't see it a lot.

Couple of other points:

1) A million people are quoting Carson's great lines. Won't somebody admit that he had writers? It wouldn't detract from his quick wit or presence. This means you, Carnac quoters!

2) I saw the tribute last night on NBC and the thing that impressed me wasn't Carson, but Rickles. Both current Rickles and clip-Rickles displayed his ability to say what everyone was thinking. I never liked him growing up; but I guess one is exposed to so much more bullshit as an adult that his tell-it-like-it-is quality becomes more endearing.

3) I also reread Tynan's New Yorker profile, which I must have read in a book somewhere years ago. What struck me this time was how much Tynan puts himself in the piece unnecessarily. You know, like, "Swifty Lazar said such-and-such about Carson to me." He's like an Eric Idle character or something.

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