Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Comedy Wasteland

I can't let this go for the third year in a row without saying something. After the 10:00 pm news here in Nebraska I'll usually do several things like maybe a shower, blog, make iced tea...and then just before bed I'll rifle thru the late nite shows to see who's on.
For the third year in a row, when I switch to Letterman, it's invariably the last couple of the top ten list followed by the same skit every night. And I mean it's the same skit. The announcer speaks over the song Hail To The Cheif while saying GREAT MOMENTS IN PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHES, with an echo. Then they have a clip of Kennedy reading his speech writers speech, "ASK NOT... (this is where my set goes on to Jimmy Kimmel)
that is followed by an edited tape of the president cut and put back together to make him say the word 'uh', about ten times in a row or of one of his many poorly worded speeches.
I grew up watching Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. He was humorous to the bone. He was a true entertainer. Letterman's show would embarrass Carson. It would be impossible for him to watch. The fact that Letterman must resort to the same skit night after night after night after year indicates how bereft of humor and talent he really is. He makes no attempt at being even handed in his politics on the show. He loves oinking around with the Micheal Moore's of the world and those of his ilk. Carson often delved into politics and everyone in Washington was fair game. His jokes were funny, but never meant to be mean spirited or one sided as Letterman always is. I've never been able to phathom why a producer would allow40 to 50% of his possible audience to be alienated into tuning away from the show just because of the hosts leanings.
Carson's talents were that he could control the show with his questioning and without doing all of the talking. He was usually the butt of his own jokes and let the big laughs go to his guests. Something you'll never see Letterman doing. It's very hard to be funny and at the same time 'cool' and 'pompous'. I am reasonbly sure that if you got a laugh at Lettermans expense, your chances of being on the show again would be nil
So tonight, try it yourself. Tune into Letterman at about the fifteen or twenty minute mark and watch the same skit every night. Ha Ha Davey. That is so funny...
The bright side for the producers of the show is that three minutes of a national broadcast, can be produced, and written by a page in editing.


Paul said...

Ah...Johnny Carson. Those were the days, huh?

We don't watch too much of the Leno/Letterman shows, although we like the "Top Ten" and "Headlines." They're both kinda raunchy; their humor is weak and contrived; and their egos are a lot bigger than our TV screen.

Ever watch "The Red Green Show" on PBS? Now there's some comedy. said...

Times change. Nothing is as it was. Useless to wish for it.

Cliff said...

Hey Paul, have you seen the Red Green episode where they move that old building on the back of several pickups? It had me on the floor laughing with tears in my eyes.

Rhodent said...

Never seen the Red Green Show (never heard of it before)but will have to check it out. I don't watch Letterman. period. I will watch Jay Leno... he is more even handed with the politics... there will never be another Johny Carson. Sigh.

Another good post, Cliff.

Rachel said...

I never watch Letterman. Sometimes I have watched a little of Jay Leno.

But Red Green, oh yeah!!!!

Gette said...

Red Green rawks.

Lee said...

I know what you mean about Letterman, Cliff. He gets on my goat, too. I rarely watch him and sometimes may catch his show at the tail end of another show I've taped...and if that be the case, I can fast-forward..the only way his show is watchable to my way of thinking. Same old, same old.

Jerry said...

I think one of the funniest segments I ever saw on Letterman was in 1986 when Cher was first on his show. She got his goat, and he never recovered. Watch at 3:28 in the video.

Letterman got revenge on Cher years later, when he forced her to sing "I Got You Babe" with her ex-husband Sonny. He definitely does not like being the butt of a joke.

Cheyenne said...

There will never be another Johnny Carson; he was the best.
I have never heard of the Red Green Show either. I usually head into my computer room around 11:10 or so, so I don't watch those late night shows.

1 plus twins said...

you are so right. carson was the best and he never minded be the brunt of jokes. letterman would never let that happen at least leno doesn't mind when others poke fun of him. i watch him more than letterman but still leno is no carson. seems all television has changed since back when we were growing up and there isn't much that is as good as it was then. even the cartoons aren't as good anymore.

nora said...

I don't have cable, so my watching options are extremely limited. I was thrilled when Seinfeld reruns started on Fox. There are several episodes that I have not seen yet.

Jim said...

I watch till his raunchy anouncer with the filthy mouth comes on, then I go to bed.
Or take medicine, get ready for bed, etc, then stay up for the Fraizer rerun then go to bed at midnight.

I love those presidential speeches.
There is a lot of comedy in there.

When Kennedy speaks, watch the people behind him.
They drink his water, take his notes, and do all kind of strange things.

I'm glad you like it, he is bad sometimes but not nearly so foul like Leno.

LZ Blogger said...

Cliff ~ Johnny Carson was "THE BEST" Hands Down... but I think you REALLY liked him because he was from Nebraska and Letterman is from Indiana! But you don't worry I don't think you have to EVER worry about Ball State beating NU EVER! EVER! Or in fact... anyone else for that matter! /-smile-/ ~ jb///

Mike ( ex scientia, veritas ) said...

^5, Cliff! ;0)

Angie said...

I'm never up that late to know who I


Flip Flop Goddess said...

well, since I quit, I dont watch it anymore...but I know what your *erring too...and trust me, he dont write his own stu**..

I dont like any o* the late night shows..

Jay Leno was NEVER *unny, Carson, sure he was good, but he is dead..

Jimmy Kimmel, no thanks..

Conan?..he is to pastey.

So now when I am up at 10:30...I *ind mysel watching vh-1 classic ..

I have stories I could tell u...

good golly..

some things that go on at those shows, well....not very good.

It came down to me not being able to write certain things, or to kiss peoples butts whom needed a good ass kicking..

I cant do it anymore..
it was *un be*ore it got nasty.

anyhoo...I know all about your dislike or David...


Jamie Dawn said...

I haven't watched Conan O'Brien in a long time, but I have had some good chuckles watching his show in the past.
I don't watch Letterman or Leno or Kimmel. I've never seen Kimmel, so I have no idea if he's funny or not.
Johnny Carson was the best EVER! If someone could replicate him, I would become a fan of late night TV.

ptg said...

CBS has nothing going for it these days. Too much politics in the mix.

Anyone remember when Steve Allen and Gene Rayburn did the Tonight Show? Now that was funny. Not as slick as Johnny Carson, but funny.

gel said...

oh, Johnny Carson- no comparison
miss him

wazza said...

Giddday Cliff,

Thanks for dropping by my "Drop Bear" post. We get Letterman here about 11.30 at night, maybe a few days after it's been shown in the US. Not a great fan, rarely watch it.
One shouldn't mention Johnny Carson and Letterman in the same breath. No comparison. We used to get Johnny here and he was such a natural comic.
And the stuff he used to do with Ed McMahon. I have a two record (yep record you remember those big black round vinyl things) set of the best of The Johnny Carson Show. It's so funny even now. Do you remember a skit he did with Jack Webb (he of Dragnet fame) called "Copper Capers". Almost as good as the Bud Abbott & Lou Costello skit "Who's on First".

Doris said...

People should read this.