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2020-07-29 19:03:49 (UTC)

Prompt 088: Meet a '60s Celebrity

88. If you could meet one famous figure from the 1960s, who would it be and why? What kind of advice might this person have for your life? How would you follow it?

It took me a minute to do enough research for this. But were he alive when I met him (hahahaha!) I'd like to have met Johnny Carson.

Everyone else just seemed played-out, or too serious. It seems like Carson was a complex man who might have even still been around were he not a smoker: at like 95 years old... but still possible. Military veteran (who saw no combat time in WWII), stage performer, mentor, shitty husband. A tantalizingly private individual with few close friends. Exposed Uri Geller. Had a star named after him: a literal star, in space, as he was a recreational astronomer. Competent businessman. Rumored to be plagued by self-consciousness and self-doubts.

He was massively influential in entertainment, and gave a hand up to many, many people. Still had a mean streak, and had been called out on it more than once. Wayne Newton apparently threatened to beat him up after Carson kept making jokes about him. Though he mentored her, Joan Rivers and Carson never spoke again after she gained her own late night television show, opposite his.

Would I follow his advice? It might have been easier to follow him by example. But I would ask him about how to be a good friend, how to be in the right place at the right time, how to eke out the most interesting things out of the blandest of other people, how to be an appreciated, talented showman who knew how - and why - to keep politics out of it.

I remember hearing about a quote of Johnny Carson's that I still ruminate on and consider to this day: "Sometimes, when you lay a big egg on stage, you just gotta sit back and admire it for a moment." You fuck up and own it, you take a breather, and you move on.