Friday, October 17, 2014

Dick Cavett from 2013

I've been catching up on Cavett's NYT column. I have no idea how he pulls it off but he manages to constantly talk about his encounters with the iconic and yet he avoids being boastful or sycophantic. Here are some favorites:

Burton being Burton.

Laurel not being Stan.

and John Wayne being... hell, you wouldn't believe me anyway.

But it was a section near the end of this piece on Carson's rough start on the Tonight Show (Cavett got his start as a writer for the show) that caught my eye.

From Tonight, Tonight, Its World Is Full of Blight
By DICK CAVETT  MARCH 29, 2013 9:00 PM
If my friend Dave Letterman should decide next contract time that he’s sat through one too many starlet guests who come on to plug their movies, exhibit seemingly a yard of bare gam, pepper their speech with “likes” and “I’m like” and “awesome” and “oh, wow” and “amazing,” and list at least seven things they are “excited” about despite the evidence, from who knows what cause, of their half-mast eyelids, I’ll regret his going.

And speaking of Dave’s presumably stepping aside some sad day, if CBS is smart, there is in full view a self-evident successor to The Big L. of Indiana.

The man I’m thinking of has pulled off a miraculous, sustained feat, against all predictions — descendants of those same wise heads who foresaw a truncated run for the Carson boy — of making a smashing success while conducting his show for years with a dual personality. And I don’t mean Rush Limbaugh (success without personality).

I can testify, as can anyone who’s met him and seen him as himself, how much more there is to Stephen Colbert than the genius job he does in his “role” on “The Colbert Report.” Everything about him — as himself — qualifies him for that chair at the Ed Sullivan Theater that Letterman has so deftly and expertly warmed for so long. Colbert is, among other virtues, endowed with a first-rate mind, a great ad-lib wit, skilled comic movement and gesture, fine education, seemingly unlimited knowledge of affairs and events and, from delightful occasional evidence, those things called The Liberal Arts — I’ll bet you he could name the author of “Peregrine Pickle.” And on top of that largess of qualities (and I hope he won’t take me the wrong way here), good looks.

Should such a day come, don’t blow it, CBS.

1 comment:

  1. Don't know how old you are, but think of this: Cavett's show ran opposite Johnny Carson. It didn't get great ratings, but it was an actual network show with serious conversation about actual topics and filled with intelligent cultural and literary references. My favorites were Sly Stone - rhyming and playing after not showing up so often that had become a recurring joke - and Mailer/Vidal insulting each other.

    Then Tom Snyder had a serious show but it ran at 1AM.

    But my favorite of these was John and Yoko spending an entire week with Mike Douglas, of all people. On an afternoon show.