A Tonight Show w/Johnny Carson question.

I didn’t see the recent special about Carson but I’ve always wondered: Besides Drew Carey, who were the other comedians made famous by being called over the the couch? Carson was on for 30 years and Carey is the only one “called over” that you ever hear about. Was Letterman called over? Leno? Seinfield? Bob Newhart? Who else?

Eddie Murphy, Ellen Degeneres, Steven Wright, Yakov Smirinoff, Roseann Barr were all called over after their first appearances…I don’t think Jerry Seinfeld was after his first appearance, but he was on the show a number of times and I think his early success is generally associated with the Carson show.

Degeneres and Barr have both talked about their “OMG THIS ISN’T HAPPENING!” excitement. (Their first appearances are on YouTube if interested.) Stand-up comedy is a notoriously sexist field and Johnny was one of the most she-comic friendly hosts.

That’s interesting. Was Eddie Murphy called over before, after, or during his stint on SNL?

I just watched that clip last night. During the intro, Carson says that Murphy is emerging as one of the highlights of the new cast. So he was on SNL, but maybe only by months.

Yeah, must have been during. He was like 19 years old when he started SNL.

Wasn’t Murphy first-generation new cast? IIRC there was a lot of scepticism about the cast change then. The show was still relatively new, and the idea of it as a breeding ground for good comedic actors was far, far away.

“In Soviet Russia, couch calls you!”

Shandling was called over, IIRC.

Also Freddie Prinze, of “Chico and the Man” fame.

Jeff Dunham, as I recall.

He was, though only he and Joe Piscopo were retained after their first season (1980-1981) on the show; the rest of that ill-fated cast (as well as the producer, Jean Doumanian) was let go after the one season.

Eddie Murphy was the break-out star of the 2nd generation of SNL. SNL being an NBC show, like the Tonight Show, it seems only natural that Carson would’ve had Murphy on the show and would’ve invited him over to the couch.

Not that Murphy wasn’t hilarious back then and would’ve been invited to over to Johnny on his own merits, because he most certainly was, but I don’t think Johnny would’ve NOT invited a fellow NBC star over, cross-promotion of network shows being a big part of the talk-show game. Except for contract negotiations, Johnny struck me as a good company man.

According to the documentary he was at war with the network. But it does make sense as a general rule to promote your own network shows.