The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was known for featuring talented guests from various fields, and on November 24, 1978, they brought on a young comedian who had been making a name for himself in the entertainment industry. David Letterman, who was a regular on the recent Mary Tyler Moore variety series, stepped onto the stage to enthusiastic applause.

With his unique brand of humor, Letterman quickly won over the audience. In his opening monologue, he touched on topics like his recent trip back from Canada on a bargain flight, the amusing sign above the airplane toilet, and his experience hitchhiking to the show. His storytelling abilities were on full display, as he recounted his encounter with a peculiar hitchhiker who was rolling an enormous joint using Pampers. The audience couldn’t help but burst into laughter.

Known for his witty observations, Letterman also shared his thoughts on the most popular newspaper in the world being one of those impulse purchases at grocery store checkout counters. He humorously mentioned headlines like “How to Lose Weight Without Diet or Exercise,” leaving the audience in stitches. Letterman’s ability to find humor in everyday situations made his performances incredibly relatable and entertaining.

During his interview with Johnny Carson, the legendary host praised Letterman’s talent, particularly his work on Mary Tyler Moore‘s variety show. Carson asked if Letterman had done much television, to which he replied that he had only been on for a few weeks, and people didn’t recognize him much for that yet. However, Letterman mentioned his prior experience working in local radio, adding that he always found a way to infuse humor into everything he did.

The conversation shifted to Letterman’s time at The Comedy Store, a renowned comedy club in Los Angeles. While he enjoyed performing there and having a regular audience, Letterman admitted that he was eager to start earning more money by performing at other venues. He humorously shared an anecdote about working in Baltimore with Tony Orlando, highlighting the older audience and the distinct scent of Vicks in the air.

Before wrapping up the interview, Letterman reminisced about his days working as a newscaster, particularly the station editorials. He noted that they had to be cautious not to be too controversial but still offered an amusing perspective on the often fake controversies they discussed.

Overall, David Letterman‘s first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was a resounding success. His quick wit, clever observations, and engaging storytelling captivated both Carson and the audience. It was clear from this memorable performance that Letterman was destined for greatness in the world of comedy and entertainment.

Source: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, aired on November 24, 1978.

Originally aired on November 24, 1978