VIDEO: The Unforgettable Steve Martin Moment That Had Johnny Carson in Consternation

Johnny Carson was famed for his laughing, but it was unusual for a guest to actually make him laugh. Carson, who had a long career in show business, hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years. Prior to that, he had shared the stage with some of the greatest entertainers of all time on radio and television. Carson was known for his astute and dry sense of humour, so it was a special treat when a visitor on his show could make him lose his cool.

On The Tonight Show in 1978, Steve Martin was promoting his new film, The Jerk, directed by Carl Reiner. Martin stated during his presence that he couldn’t stay due to the film’s filming and rehearsal schedule. He walked away, but then unexpectedly returned to Carson’s desk. Carson instantly expelled a cigarette puff, which he later regretted doing on video, and Martin began to explain why he returned.

Carson’s face turned bright red from laughing so hard, and tears appeared to be streaming from his eyes. Carson couldn’t stop laughing at Martin’s justification for his homecoming. Previously, as additional guests arrived, they would move down the row of chairs, but there was a new tendency at the time in which huge performers would leave after their interviews. Martin saw it as a status move, and he wanted in on it.

Carson’s laughter was infectious, and the audience couldn’t help but join in. It was a rare moment where Carson’s composure was completely lost, and Martin’s humor had won him over. This moment between Carson and Martin has become a classic moment in television history, and it remains an example of how even the most seasoned of hosts can still be surprised by their guests.

Watch the video below:

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