Bill Maher and Jerry Seinfeld Accuse Johnny Carson of Stealing Jokes

‘Johnny was a mean bastard’
Bill Maher and Jerry Seinfeld Accuse Johnny Carson of Stealing Jokes

Both Bill Maher and Jerry Seinfeld have made headlines in recent months about PC culture, the woke and the extreme left damaging comedy, but the two comics found a new target on a recent episode of Maher’s Club Random podcast: late-night legend Johnny Carson. 

They each have fond memories of their Tonight Show appearances, but Maher reminded his guest that Carson “could be terrible to people.”

“Everyone at that level should be terrible to people,” joked Seinfeld, perhaps telling on himself in the process. 

“Especially when he drank, he just had a really mean side to him,” Maher said, referencing the book Johnny Carson by Carson’s legal advisor Henry Bushkin (also known as Bombastic Bushkin in Carson’s late-night jokes). “I read that biography, and I felt it was so true. It wasn’t kissing his ass, and it wasn’t covering anything up. He was just cold. His mother was very cold to him.” 

That might be true, but Seinfeld appreciated the cool nature of Carson’s comedy. “It made it easier to watch him,” he said. “I can’t watch people that want me to fill that (emotional) need for them. I can’t do it; they’re exhausting.”

Speaking of Bushkin, Seinfeld asked Maher if he agreed that Carson’s comically inept advisor Bombastic Bushkin was a rip-off. “Don’t you think that joke was (due to) his intense jealousy of Dr. Vinnie Boombatz, Rodney (Dangerfield)’s great doctor?”  

“Carson loved that joke so much and he wanted his own,” Seinfeld said. “And, of course, he would steal when it suited him.”

Absolutely, responded Maher. “He stole the Answer Man from Steve Allen…” (Actually, it was called the Question Man, later ripped off by Carson as Carnac the Magnificent.)

“And he stole Maude Frickert from (Jonathan) Winters,” said Maher, turning the character into Aunt Blabby.

“It was horrible,” said Seinfeld. “And then he would have them on the show.”  

There was nothing the other comics could do, agreed Maher, since Carson was the king. Even though Carson could be gracious on The Tonight Show, he stopped being that guy when the red light went off. “I’m telling you, he was a bad man,” Maher said. “He was just a badass. He broke into his wife’s apartment, you know. That’s in the book, when they were going through the divorce. He did really badass things.

“I don’t think that’s badass,” replied Seinfeld. “It’s just bad.” 

“Johnny was a mean bastard,” Maher concluded. “You don’t fuck with Johnny.” 


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