For someone who doesn’t stay up all that late, I spend a lot of time watching late night television — about three or more hours each day, thanks to my DVR.
I should really be thanking Johnny Carson.
After all, he created the late night genre as we know it. All the current late night hosts have cited Carson as a major influence.
None of them are Carson, but they all have little pieces of him in their repertoire.
Jimmy Fallon has his joy. David Letterman his creativity. Conan his self-doubt. Craig Ferguson his dirty mind. And Jay Leno?
Well, Jay Leno just has his time slot.
It’s hard to believe that it was 19 years ago today that Carson signed off after hosting the Tonight Show for 30 years:
And so it has come to this: I, uh — am one of the lucky people in the world; I found something I always wanted to do, and I have enjoyed every single minute of it.
I want to thank the gentlemen who’ve shared this stage with me for thirty years, Mr. Ed McMahon — Mr. Doc Severinsen — and — you people watching, I can only tell you that it has been an honor and a privilege to come into your homes all these years and entertain you — and I hope when I find something that I want to do, and I think you would like, and come back, that you’ll be as gracious in inviting me into your home as you have been.
I bid you a very heartfelt good night.