Tonight Show

I went to the Tonight Show once. 1975 or 1976. Johnny Carson, of course, took the night off. John Davidson was the host. I was so disappointed. Then they announced Davidson couldn’t make it. A surprise host would be filling in. Out comes Steve Allen. He brings out Tom Poston, then Louie Nye, then Bill Daily. It was the original Tonight Show all over again. Sheer anarchy. At one point they’re all doing an out of control Chinese Fire Drill around the desk. Half the jokes were off camera. No guests got on. They kept going right through the commercial breaks, like they couldn’t stop. It was one of the funniest things I ever saw in my life. Later that night, watching on television I realized that only a fraction of what was going could be seen, let alone understood, by the TV audience, which made it even funnier. That was the only time I ever saw the Tonight Show in person. Never did see Johnny Carson, to my infinite regret, but I saw Steve Allen doing it old school, like it was live television all over again. Beautiful.

Steve Allen at rehearsal, 1954. A great photo from the Associated Press, no idea who took it.

Steve Allen at rehearsal, 1954. A great photo from the Associated Press, no idea who took it.

 

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