Kathleen Madigan delivered a sharp political set on The Tonight Show Wednesday night.
Dick Cavett is best known as a talk show host who spoke with (and listened to) some of America's most celebrated entertainers. With a playful yet sophisticated wit, he hosted The Dick Cavett Show, which aired on ABC and on PBS from the late 60s to the early 80s and won several Emmys. His past also includes stints writing jokes and working with Jack Paar and Johnny Carson at The Tonight Show. He currently contributes to the New York Times' Opinionator blog.
In his newest book, Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets, he tells some of his best stories about his time as an interviewer and host.
JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is one of the great talk show hosts of all time, Dick Cavett. He won three Emmy awards for his shows; both on ABC, and on PBS. These days, he spends a fair amount of his time as a blogger-columnist for the New York Times. Some of his favorite pieces written for The Times have now been collected in Dick Cavett’s Talk Show. I learned in the book that I would be remiss to introduce him without also mentioning that he was State Pommel Horse Champion of the great state of Nebraska.
DICK CAVETT: Absolutely.
JESSE THORN: Mr. Cavett, welcome to The Sound.
DICK CAVETT: Gosh, thank you for that.
Bill Carter is the author of two books about the politics and people of late night television, and a media reporter for the New York Times.
His most recent book is The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy, a behind-the-scenes look at the Sturm und Drang of the late night wars over Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and The Tonight Show.
JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest, Bill Carter, is the national media reporter for the New York Times. He’s also made a name of himself as a chronicler of late night television programming. His first book, The Late Shift, was a best-selling story of the battle between Jay Leno and David Letterman for the Tonight Show. His latest book, The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy, is the story of the improbable second act of that drama in which Leno fought it out with Conan O’Brien for that most coveted of television programs. Bill, welcome to The Sound of Young America, it’s great to have you on the show.
BILL CARTER: It’s great to be with you, Jesse.
JESSE THORN: Bill, tell me why this battle keeps happening. What is it that’s so important about this institution of The Tonight Show?
Andy Richter is best known as sidekick to Conan O'Brien, on both Late Night and The Tonight Show. He's also a successful comic writer and actor. His acclaimed series Andy Barker, PI and Andy Richter Controls the Universe are both available on DVD. He's also headed out on tour with Conan O'Brien's "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television" tour, which begins April 12th in Eugene, Oregon.
Andy talked with us about his early days, touring with The Real Brady Bunch and eventually falling into the sidekick's chair on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. He talks about why he left that show, and why he rejoined Conan for The Tonight Show, and about what it was like to man a sinking ship after the staff of Tonight found out they were being pulled from the air.