|David Letterman's Tribute to Johnny Carson|
David Letterman paid tribute to the late Johnny Carson by delivering a "Late Show" monologue composed entirely of jokes the retired "Tonight Show" host had quietly sent him in his final months:
"Here is a sad story. Paris Hilton has a dog named Tinkerbell and Tinkerbell was missing. But don't worry -- they found Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell was with the Taco Bell chihuahua making a sex video."
"How many of you people are on a low carb diet? ... Everything is low carb now -- they make low-carb beer, low-carb pizza and low-carb ice cream. But I was reading in the Times, and this makes no sense to me, you can buy low-carb condoms."
"John Kerry was criticized for throwing away his military medals back in the 70s. So not to be outdone, today President Bush threw away his National Guard spotty attendance ribbon."
"President Bush stopped in Canada where he received a cool reception but, on the bright side, he was able to stop in a pharmacy and fill his prescriptions."
Letterman, remembering Carson:
"There are so many things you miss about Johnny Carson. ... I was nearly this sad when the guy retired. ... Johnny Carson was like a public utility. At the end of the day, that's who you wanted to be there. ... The way that you know that Johnny was such a tremendous part of your life was when there was a guest host. You would be waiting all day to see Johnny and you'd tune in and there would be a guest host. And it would make you angry. And you'd be steaming mad, not at Johnny, you would always take out your anger at the guest host.
"The 'Tonight Show' didn't become the 'Tonight Show' until Johnny did it. He created the template for that show, and everybody else who is doing a show, myself included, we're all kind of secretly doing Johnny's 'Tonight Show.'" And the reason we're all doing Johnny's 'Tonight Show' is because you think, 'Well, if I do Johnny's "Tonight Show," maybe I'll be a little like Johnny and people will like me more.' But it sadly doesn't work that way. If you're not Johnny, you're wasting your time.
"I moved to Los Angeles from Indianapolis in 1975, and the reason I moved is because of Johnny Carson and the 'Tonight Show.' And I'm not the only one. I would guess that maybe three generations of comedians moved to be where Johnny was because if you thought you were funny and you wanted to find out if you could hit major league pitching, you had to be on the 'Tonight Show.'
"I was lucky enough to be on the 'Tonight Show' in 1978 and from that I got a show that Paul and I used to do over at NBC and from that we got this show. Truthfully, no stretch of the imagination, I owe everything in my professional career, whatever success we've attained, to Johnny Carson, because he was nice enough to give me the opportunity, and throughout my career, was always very supportive."
Ex-"Tonight Show" prod. Peter Lassally, on Carson sending Letterman jokes: "When you used them on the air, he was delighted. He was delighted that you did them and the audience laughed at them. It gave him great pleasure."
Letterman: "When you get a call from Johnny Carson and he's got jokes for you, it's like Christmas morning."
"Late Show With David Letterman," Jan. 31, 2005