(Announcer): “From ‘Television City’ in beautiful Burbank, California—It’s ‘The Tonight Show Birthday Party’ with Johnny Carson and this week’s special, joy-giving guests: singer/songwriter Katy Perry, Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Moss Hart, New York comedy icons Fanny Brice and Fran Lebowitz, that ‘Family Guy,’ Seth MacFarlane and real life hero for America and the world, Dr. Jonas Salk, discoverer of the vaccine which effectively eliminated the scourge of poliovirus.”
For its first decade, Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show” was based at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (NYC) with a few episodes recorded at NBC’s West Coast studios. For the remaining two decades, in order to have greater access to Hollywood celebs, the show moved permanently to Burbank.
You feel the joy as audience laughter rocks the NBC studio. Johnny’s longtime sidekick Ed McMahon warms up the crowd and bandleader Skitch Henderson cranks up the familiar “Johnny’s Theme” written by Paul Anka. The stage surround for this evening includes giant blow-ups of Seth MacFarlane animation stills.
HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! (Note: The comments attributed to these famous joy-givers come from words they have actually written or said.)
PLEASE GIVE A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FOR THESE JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK:
Oct. 23—JOHNNY CARSON was a television host, comedian, writer and producer. He is best known for “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” (1962-1992). He moved from radio to television performing and followed Jack Parr as the host of the late-night talk show, “Tonight.”
Carson received six Primetime Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. His casual, conversational approach and extensive interaction with guests earned him induction in the Television Academy Hall of Fame, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Kennedy Center Honor.
Oct. 24—MOSS HART was a playwright, librettist and theater director. Although he was born in what he described as a “drab tenement,” his first successful play, “Once in a Lifetime,” made him a wealthy man by age 26. Hart and George S. Kaufman, his writing partner, won a Pulitzer Prize for their comedy, “You Can’t Take It with You.” His autobiography, “Act One,” received a popular film adaptation.
Oct. 25—KATY PERRY (Kathryn Elizabeth Hudson) is a singer, songwriter and television judge. She started her singing career in gospel as a teenager, but it was her move to secular music and the giant hit, “I Kissed a Girl (and I Liked It)” that brought her worldwide fame. She has sold more than 143 million records and has five “Billboard Magazine Music Awards.” Perry holds four Guinness World Records. She is the voice of Smurfette in the animated movie, “The Smurfs” and its sequel. In her spare time, she’s a judge on the television singer contest show, “American Idol.”
Oct. 26—SETH MacFARLANE (Seth Woodbury MacFarlane) is best known for his work in animation and comedy. He is a graduate from the esteemed Rhode Island School of Design where he studied cartoon animation. MacFarlane is the creator of the hit television show, “Family Guy” and co-creator of the television series, “American Dad!” He wrote, directed and starred in the films “Ted,” its sequel, “Ted 2” and “A Million Ways to Die in the West.” He is an Emmy, Annie and Webby award winner.
MacFarlane performed as a singer at Carnegie Hall (NYC) and the Royal Albert Hall in London, England. He also has a place in the Television Hall of Fame.
Oct. 27—FRAN LEBOWITZ is a humorist, author, public speaker and occasional actor. She is known for her sardonic social commentary on American life seen aslant through her decidedly New York City perspective. “The New York Times” called her a modern-day Dorothy Parker. She is known for her books, “Metropolitan Life” (1978) and “Social Studies” (1981). Lebowitz has been the subject of two projects directed by her fellow “New Yawker,” Martin Scorsese—the HBO documentary film, “Public Speaking,” and the Netflix docu-series “Pretend It’s a City.”
Oct. 28—JONAS SALK was an American virologist and medical researcher who developed one of the first successful polio vaccines. Though born in New York City and educated at the New York University School of Medicine, it was at the University of Pittsburgh (PA) School of Medicine where Dr. Salk devoted seven years to determine the number of different types of polioviruses and created a vaccine against polio.
Salk was immediately hailed as a “miracle worker” when the vaccine’s success was first made public in April, 1955. He chose to not patent the vaccine nor seek any profit from it in order to maximize its global distribution. By 1959, the Salk polio vaccine had reached 90 countries. Less than 25 years after the release of Dr. Salk’s vaccine, domestic transmission of polio had been completely eliminated in the United States.
Oct. 29—FANNY BRICE (born Fania Borach) was a 1920s era comedienne, illustrated song model, singer and theater/movie actress who made film, radio and stage appearances. She is known as the creator and star of the immensely popular radio comedy series, “The Baby Snooks Show.” The Broadway musical, “Funny Girl,” starring Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice, was a hit in 1964 and garnered Ms. Streisand an Oscar award for the 1968 film. The 1975 sequel was aptly titled, “Funny Lady.”
COMMENTS OVERHEARD AT “THE TONIGHT SHOW BIRTHDAY PARTY:”
“I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day—he killed himself.”—Johnny Carson
“All the mistakes I ever made were when I wanted to say ‘No’ and said ‘Yes.’”—Moss Hart
“If you can believe in something great, then you can achieve something great.”—Katy Perry
“I love the English. My God, they brought us, “Benny Hill,” “Monty Python,” “The Office” and Neville Chamberlain.”—Seth MacFarlane
“Think before you speak. Read before you think.”—Fran Lebowitz
“I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.”—Jonas Salk
“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be.”—Fanny Brice
“People will pay more to be entertained than educated.”—Johnny Carson
“Anything worth hearing is not uttered at seven o’clock in the morning; and if it is, it will generally be repeated at a more reasonable hour for a larger and more wakeful audience.”—Moss Hart
“There’s a spark in you, you’ve just gotta ignite the light and let it shine.”—Katy Perry
“If something is shocking without being funny it’s hard to justify.”—Seth MacFarlane
“In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.”—Fran Lebowitz
“Find the right questions. You don’t invent the answers, you reveal the answers.”—Jonas Salk
“I’m a bad woman, but I’m damn good company.”—Fanny Brice
“Never use a big word when a little filthy one will do.”—Johnny Carson
“You’d be surprised how many kings are a queen with a mustache.”—Moss Hart
“If you’re presenting yourself with confidence, you can pull off pretty much anything.”—Katy Perry
“The resistance to science is idiotic.”—Seth MacFarlane
“A book is not supposed to be a mirror. It’s supposed to be a door.”—Fran Lebowitz
“Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.”—Jonas Salk
“Your audience gives you everything you need. They tell you. There is no director who can direct you like an audience.”—Fanny Brice
“If it wasn’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners.”—Johnny Carson
“There’s nothing the matter with Hollywood that a good earthquake couldn’t cure.”—Moss Hart
“Recycle those nerves and make them adrenaline.”—Katy Perry
“You would not want me on your football team.”—Seth MacFarlane
“My favorite animal is steak.”—Fran Lebowitz
“Are we being good ancestors?”—Jonas Salk
“I never liked the men I loved and never loved the men I liked.”—Fanny Brice
“Married men live longer than single men. But married men are a lot more willing to die.”—Johnny Carson
“A play for me never really takes on an aspect of reality until it has left the dry air of the study and begins to sniff the musty breezes of a bare stage.”—Moss Hart
“I went from zero to my own hero.”—Katy Perry
“Adults acting like children and children acting like adults is generally a reliable comic device.”—Seth MacFarlane
“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.”—Fran Lebowitz
“Evolution favors the survival of the wisest.”—Jonas Salk
“I’m a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls.”—Fanny Brice
“The opposite of talking isn’t listening. The opposite of talking is waiting.”—Fran Lebowitz
MENU FOR “THE TONIGHT SHOW BIRTHDAY PARTY:”
APPETIZER—Moss Hart Act One Kosher Mushrooms (kosher.com)
SALAD—Seth MacFarlane American Dad Cucumber Salad (allrecipes.com)
ENTRÉE—Fran Lebowitz New York Strip Steak (foodnetwork.com)
SIDE DISH—Johnny Carson Bacon-Wrapped Corning, Iowa Corn (tasteofhome.com)
BREAD—Fanny Brice Bagels (kingarthurbaking.com)
BEVERAGE—Katy Perry French Kiss Cocktail (see recipe below)
DESSERT—Jonas Salk Baked Olive Oil Doughnuts (thespruceeats.com)
ONE TO GROW ON—The autobiographical book, “Act One,” by playwright Moss Hart is considered one of the most entertaining and poignant memoirs of life in the theater. It was the source for a 1963 film and a 2014 Broadway play.
“Carnac the Magnificent,” the psychic character Johnny Carson created adding a giant, silk turban atop his beaming, Midwestern face, was the after-dinner entertainment. “Carnac” divined the comic questions to answers the guests asked which were each purportedly contained in a sealed envelope. Here are some “Carnac” highlights or bottom-feeding puns from the evening:
“Debate”…”What do you use to catch de fish?”
“Three Dog Night”…”What’s a bad night for a tree?”
“Mount Baldy”…”What did Yul Brenner’s wife do on their wedding night?”
“Sis boom bah”…”Describe the sound made when a sheep explodes.”
The last words for “The Tonight Show Birthday Party” came from Katy Perry singing her hit song, “Firework:”
“Come on, show ‘em what you’re worth.
Make ‘em go, “Ah, ah, ah.”
As you shoot across the sky.
Baby, you’re a firework.”
Come on, let your colors burst.
Make ‘em go, “Ah, ah, ah.”
You’re gonna leave ‘em all in awe, awe, awe.
You don’t have to feel like a wasted space.
You’re an original and cannot be replaced.”
KATY PERRY FRENCH KISS COCKTAIL
2 fluid ounces Grey Goose vodka
1 ½ fluid ounces Chambord liqueur
Shake ingredients with ice and strain in a martini glass. Garnish with a Hershey’s Kiss and a fresh raspberry.