How Johnny Carson aged like fine wine


Karter Murphy

Johnny Carson, a truly beloved talk show host of The Tonight Show, has slowly been forgotten by today’s high schoolers, despite the fact he’s a six-time Primetime Emmy Award winner and arguably the most infamous talk show host.

I first heard about Johnny Carson through a close friend who owns every season of The Tonight Show featuring Johnny Carson, the show he hosted for thirty years, on VHS. So, understandably, I thought he was going to be incredibly lame and unfunny because current talk show hosts and 90% of other dead white men have upheld that reputation for him. However, not only was Johnny Carson incredibly funny before his passing in 2005, but even now, twenty years past his death, he manages to make the people watching at home laugh in a way most current television doesn’t. His comedy was tasteful as well as timeless.

However, maybe you’re thinking what I was. “How funny could a man born in 1925 from Corning, Iowa be?” The answer is, “incredibly.” He specialized in deadpan humor and satire, two things that most young people these days love in their comedy. And even if that’s not your interest, he often featured great aspiring comedians. Including names you may have heard of like Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jay Leno. The show also had guest stars like Frank Sinatra, Steve Martin, and Don Rickles. Many famous comedians also had their first TV appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

But there’s also the elephant in the room. “This old white guy probably made horribly offensive jokes on live air.” And I thought the exact same thing when I first heard about him, but it’s quite the contrary. He tried to keep his politics off television as much as possible, despite what you’ll see people like Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah do today. But behind the scenes, he opposed the Vietnam war, racial inequality, capital punishment, and wanted the liberalization of divorce laws and even abortion laws. Something almost monumental feeling for the time he was alive.

Johnny Carson is timeless. He aged like fine wine and his comedy is still often unmatched. If you’re ever thinking about what to watch when you get home from work or maybe something to watch before bed, turn on Johnny Carson. It’s easy to find, free to watch, and is a thousand times funnier than whatever poor Donald Trump impression Stephen Colbert will spend a third of his show on.