Legendary late night talk show host Johnny Carson gave one of his guests quite a startle in the 1980s when she thought he had eaten one of her prized potato chips.
TV Guide labeled it one of the funniest moments on television.
Myrtle Young was as a guest on Carson’s program, NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” in 1987 to display several of the uniquely shaped potato chips that made up her collection.
Carson appeared to take a keen interest in her chips, some of which were shaped like animals, or pieces of fruit, or a pair of socks. Some even had the resemblance of celebrities’ heads, including those of Bob Hope and Rodney Dangerfield.
Part way through the interview, Carson’s sidekick Ed McMahon distracted Young, while his boss grabbed a chip from behind his desk and ate it with a loud crunch.
Young immediately shot her head back toward Carson with her mouth wide open in shock.
The audience roared with laughter.
Watch the video to see how Carson sought to calm her fears, as she put her hand over her heart.
Carson hosted “The Tonight Show” for 30 years from 1962 to 1992.
According to IMDB, the native Nebraskan won the ratings battle for his time slot every year he was on the air, for which he was rewarded handsomely financially.
Carson was the highest paid person on television earning a reported $5 million per year by the 1980s, which would be more than twice as much in today’s dollars.
Carson, who passed away in 2005, launched the careers of many famous standup comedians including Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Tim Allen, Drew Carey, Jeff Foxworthy, and Rosanne Barr.
Seinfeld first appeared on the show in 1981.
The comic did a funny bit on pajamas, slippers, and boxers.
“I wash everything on the gentle cycle.” Seinfeld then went on to disclose. “To me this is much more humane..You can put a baby in there; you won’t hurt it.”
He observed the washing machine is very private about what happens in all of its cycles.
“As soon as you lift up the lid, it stops immediate,” Seinfeld joked.
When the comedian finished his routine, Carson flashed him the “A-OK” sign, which Seinfeld later said was the most coveted signal for a stand-up appearing on the show to receive.
Seinfeld would go to to appear on “The Tonight Show” with Carson multiple times throughout the 1980’s and early 90s.
Steve Martin was another frequent guest on the program.
Martin, who likes to poke fun at celebrity culture, told Carson during one such appearance in 1978 that he could not stay until the end of the program, due to a previous commitment.
After leaving, Martin returned to the set, feigning crying and confessing he lied.
“I see all the big stars come on and they always have to leave,” Martin said. “I just thought I’d say I have to leave, but I don’t have to leave.”
“I can stay the whole show and a little bit longer,” he added.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.