Conan O’Brien was a student of the late, great Johnny Carson.
But what exactly, he asked, made the man so great?
“Sometimes everybody’s talking about how amazing he was but they’re not telling you why,” Conan said in a clip from a documentary about Carson, the legendary comedian and host of The Tonight Show who graduated from UNL.
The clip, from a documentary UNL students made, was played the other day for guests in the campus theater named for Carson.
“He was the complete package,” O’Brien continued. “He’s a great physical comedian. There’s a lot of grace. Great at playing comedic moments the way any great improviser – like Will Ferrell or Steve Carrell – would. He could play those moments perfectly … Great with coming up with one-liners. A great ad-libber. But he was also an intellectual.”
(At UNL, he wrote a thesis on comedy, after studying and categorizing the jokes he heard on the radio. Carson once said in an interview that his college education helped him in his career – in the type of material he did and in the way he saw the world.)
Johnny Carson was one more thing, people who knew him say – generous. He promoted the rising young comedians who came out from behind his curtain and made him laugh. He tried to make all of his guests look good.
And he never forgot his friends back home, or his alma mater.
Learn about the most recent gift to UNL from the foundation that bears his great name.
Posted by: Campaign Update, Front Page, UNL on
May 8th, 2013