After dispatching Conan O’Brien from the helm of “The Tonight Show”, Jay Leno returned triumphant months ago, only to be confronted by the heckling ghost of Johnny Carson, apparently still haunting the late-night set. Appearing nightly for months during Leno’s monologue, the apparition is obviously taking a toll on Leno’s timing…not that Leno’s timing was that tight to begin with.
Stage hands on the set claim not only to have seen Carson’s ghostly form, but heard his quips, too. “Even dead and pissed off, he’s funnier than Leno,” said one “Tonight Show” employee, who preferred to remain anonymous rather than face Leno’s petulant fury.
Manifesting since the first night Leno returned, Carson’s ghost apparently remained mostly silent, occasionally swinging an imaginary golf club at Leno groin. But lately, Johnny has not only brought his old desk but his old side-kick, Ed McMahon to the party. Laughing and joking in the netherworld just off-stage, Johnny has had some shrewd observations, most of them at the expense of Leno. Some of the gems of the paranormal activity include:
Ghost of Carson: “And heeeerrrre’s Leno, a man whose chin size is only exceeded by the size of his ego.”
Ghost of McMahon: ‘‘Yuk, Yuk, Yuk…”
Carson: “I’ve heard fresher material in Purgatory. What did you do, steal that joke off of a dead hobo with no sense of humor?”
Leno: “Hey, I can hear you over here!”
Carson: “That’s good, that’s good. And since you can see dead things, too, I want to introduce my first guest: YOUR CAREER!”
Leno: “That does it! I’m getting an exorcist.”
Carson: “NBC already tried that, but then you made Conan jump out a window and came baaaack.”
McMahon: “Heh! He’s baaaaaack!”
Carson: “ Hey! Hey, Jay!! If you ever wonder if that suit makes your ass look fat, the answer is YES!”
Carson: “Normally, I’d just say, ‘You suck,’ but knowing you, you’d probably think it was a sexual come on.”
The Ghost of Johnny Carson, speaking via Ouija Board, promised to haunt “The Tonight Show” until Leno finds another line of work. “I’d suggest something in fast food, because like his stand up, it’s stale, bland and over-priced.”