Posted ByGerry O. on August 16, 2002 at 08:56:08:
In Reply to: Re: Jack Leno and Fred Letterman posted bykurt on August 16, 2002 at 00:40:42:
Your message and points are VERY interesting, Kurt...I had NO idea that Johnny Carson was so influenced by Fred Allen. (I realize that aspects of Carson's show were..."The Mighty Carson Art Players" and the like....but Johnny really hadn't made a practice of acknowledging Fred the way that other talk show hosts like Steve Allen and David Letterman have.
When you come to think of it, many of Carson's more unusual guests (the zoo people with the rare animals, the lady who made jewelery out of bird droppings, the guy who played "Stars and Stripes Forever" with his cupped hands, etc.) are DIRECT descendants of unusual guests from Fred Allen's hour-long programs. You just didn't HEAR "oddball" people like that on major network variety shows during that time...but Fred had the guts to feature them on HIS show because they were INTERESTING!
Personally, even though some of the comedy may have a 1930's dated sound to it, I MUCH prefer Fred's earlier hour-long programs to his later half-hour shows. The hour shows WERE more like present-day talk shows, and the hour length gave Fred the chance and time to provide some GREAT ad-libs.
Many of the later half-hour shows have a "rushed" feel to them, and too much of the half-hour was spent showcasing the celebrity guest star of that week.
Do you know what I would have LOVED to see? Both Jack Benny and Fred Allen guesting on the SAME TV talk show....Can't you just picture Fred sitting there ad-libbing while Jack would fall off the couch laughing?