A Photo That Closes the Book on a Late Night Era

Ian Crouch, writing for The New Yorker:

Of all the images and videos that have resurfaced in the days of mourning following the death of Garry Shandling, one particular photograph stands out for me. It was taken in 1988, on the set of the “Tonight Show,” during an episode marking the twenty-sixth anniversary of Johnny Carson’s run as host. It shows Carson during a bit with three of the recurring guest hosts on the show — Shandling, David Letterman, and Jay Leno — each of whom, by that point, had some designs on taking over for Carson when he finally came around on the idea of calling it quits. There is a lot of comedy firepower in that photo, and a lot of ego. Four famous white men onstage in tuxedos: it’s like a Hollywood version of one of those photographs from the early Soviet era that show political leaders in an uneasy alliance, before all the backstabbing, purges, and power grabs.

But what’s most striking about the image is how it captures, in the faces and manner of the four men, the precise nature of their comedic appeal.

It really is a remarkable photo. I changed my Twitter profile banner to this picture a few days ago.

Monday, 28 March 2016