Episodes: 4,531 (hour)
TV show dates: October 1, 1962 – May 22, 1992
Series status: Cancelled/ended
Performers include: Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon, Doc Severinsen, Tommy Newsom, Joan Rivers, Jay Leno, Garry Shandling, Bob Newhart, Joey Bishop, John Davidson, David Brenner, McLean Stevenson, Jerry Lewis, and David Letterman.
TV show description:
Hosted by Johnny Carson, this late-night talk show follows a basic format that is almost always followed.
Ed McMahon is the announcer and Johnny’s sidekick. He begins each show by listing the night’s guests and announcing the host with a hearty, “Heeeeere’s Johnny!” Carson steps out from behind a multi-colored curtain and delivers a topical monologue of jokes to the audience. While Carson has expert comic taste, he’s also well known for delivering an occasional dud and somehow manages to make them work.
Following the monologue, Carson chats with McMahon from behind his desk and/or delivers a skit or two. Popular comic personas for Carson include clairvoyant Carnac the Magnificant; Art Fern, a fast-talking TV host who pushes inane products; cranky senior Aunt Blabby; and even President Ronald Reagan while he was in office.
Thes are followed by interviews. Guests on the show typically include movie and television personalities as well as authors, musicians, comics, and regular adults and kids with interesting talents. On occassion, Carson invites a rising comic to do stand-up on the show and has given many their first bit of national exposure. Musical artists are also often invited to perform.
The NBC Orchestra provides the music for the show’s opening, musical interludes, and sometimes accompaniment for musical guests. Doc Severinsen leads the band. When there’s a guest host, Severinsen fills in for McMahon and Tommy Newsom does double duty as a band member and bandleader.