Late night clowns are no Carson

Published 9:29 am Friday, November 3, 2017

Every year it seems I miss Johnny Carson just a little more.

Carson, the king of the late night talk show hosts in his decades on the Tonight Show, kept me up much too late during my high school years, making it a little tough to make it to school in time, even though I basically lived across the street.

David Letterman helped ease the transition a little when Carson retired, because I had watched him from his first show when I was a student at Eastern and Letterman followed the Tonight Show. He moved over to CBS when Jay Leno took over for Carson and shifted to the 11:30 p.m. spot, giving many of us two good options for entertainment after the news ended.

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I’m back to NBC again with Jimmy Fallon because it sometimes seems as if he’s the only one who hasn’t decided to become a full-time political commentator. I’m not a massive Donald Trump fan by any means, especially some of his childish comments/tweets you hear about every few days, but he’s still the president and he’s done some good things with the economy in the early part of his tenure. I’m still open to the idea he could accomplish more over the next few years.

But whether he’s a good or bad president isn’t the real issue for me. I find myself leaning to his side when I happen to stumble across Stephen Colbert or Seth Myers during one of their monologues, spent pretty entirely on bashing the president. Carson used to take shots at whoever the president was at the time — and most of us who can remember the 1970s know Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and Richard Nixon, a Republican, provided plenty of fodder for comedians.

The thing is it never occurred to me that Carson was for one side or the other. He didn’t act like he was the smartest guy in the room and anyone who didn’t agree with him was an idiot. He made fun of both sides. Colbert and Meyers give me the impression that they think that anyone who doesn’t believe the president is a complete moron is just too dumb to watch their show. Meyers pretty much admitted it recently when he discussed the rapper Eminem’s attacks of the president.

“I was inspired by that, so tonight, I say to any fans of this show who are also big fans of Donald Trump, it’s time to make a decision,” said Meyers. “Get off the fence. Do you support him or do you support this show, that constantly mocks and denigrates everything about him? I know it’s a tough call, but the time has come to make a decision. Now, I’m not much of a rapper, but here it goes. My name is Seth and I’m here to say, if you like Trump, then go away.”

What talk show host in the old days would have a litmus test for viewers? When did entertainment and opinion become so intertwined?

Partisan politics, to me, is the greatest enemy our nation has these days. I don’t like when I hear politicians act as if everything their party does is wonderful and the other side is always wrong. That’s one big reason we have so much trouble fixing basic problems these days, both in our state and nation, not to mention the divisions our county has battled through for decades, even though that was not a Democrat-Republican issue.

To me, we should look at each issue on its own merit. Show a little individuality and quit following one party or another like a sheep. I decided several years ago I don’t want to be on either team. Anyone who always fights for one party over the other, no matter the issue, shows me they lack the intelligence to think for themselves, and that holds true for the late night guys who seem to believe they’re smarter than Johnny Carson.

Colbert and Meyers remind me every time I stumble on their show of one indisputable truth. Carson was, and always will be, the best.