Tag Archives: david letterman

Everyone Wants to Be Johnny Carson

by Eric P. Metze

All late night talk shows (aside from the Daily Show and the Colbert Report) are lame and practically worthless. They’re formulaic, unoriginal, and pander to the widest audience possible. Half of the population has a below-average IQ, so their content has pretty much the same level of complexity. At least the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are topical, intelligent, and genuinely funny almost every night (except for the interviews, which I rarely watch). When one of the other shows makes fun of politicians, it’s watered down because they have a much larger audience to consider.

And I suppose that’s really what I don’t like about the late night shows. They’re all so watered down that they’re uninteresting and almost completely lacking in entertainment value to me. For example, I used to love watching Carson Daly when he first got his late show. He and a guest would sit down and have a chat for half an hour. But, I accidentally tuned in the other day to find a completely different dressed in his skin. Now I absolutely cannot watch Carson Daly for more than ten seconds. He wants to be Johnny Carson so bad, the poor sap.

Why is that? Who knows. But, it’s probably because this is a different generation than Johnny Carson’s. There are different…um…standards that the newer audiences are used to. We like our jokes dirtier (i.e., more genuine) than our parent’s and grandparent’s generations (thank God). Seriously, it’s increasingly strange to think that “dirty” jokes are actually dirty. It’s just a generational thing, that’s all. And so the hosts feel the need to be on the cutting edge, as it were. The content of the jokes changes with each generation, but really, everyone wants to be Johnny Carson.

Also, our generation just LOVES bands. Wee hoo! Boy, do we love bands! Bands and music and American Idol and other mind-numbing stuff to keep us from worrying about reality. We love bands whether they’re good or not, and most of the bands on television these days are completely worthless shit. Every Creed and Nickelback wannabe band (including Creed and Nickelback) just plays into the lame ass standards set forth by producers, not listeners. I mean, a Christian band that has ZERO Christian relevance? What the hell!? But, I digress…

Johnny’s Tonight Show formula has influenced every late show that’s on television right now, as if there’s only one way to do it. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, it goes something like this:

They introduce the host as though they are the center of the universe, the host comes out to a band and a cheering audience, the crowd cheers for a little while longer, then the host tells a bunch of “topical” jokes, then they mention the band leader, the cameras cut to the band leader who plays a short piece that people might recognize, then they cut back to the host who has magically teleported to their desk, then they have a humorous bit before they go to commercial, they come back from commercial and have another humorous bit, then they introduce their first guest, second guest, musical guest, who could’ve guessed, rinse, repeat. Feh.

I wonder when they’re going to break the mold and try something different…I mean, besides dirtier jokes and better music. If only Johnny was here to help.