Johnny Carson

Late night television has never been the same since Johnny Carson retired. He provided us with laughs for decades on The Tonight Show. His humor was genuine and often off the cuff, rather than much of the rehearsed comedy we see today. This style of Carson humor was most evident when he had animals on the show.

Joan Embery was a regular fixture on Johnny’s show and she’d bring a variety of different animals with her. Not only did we learn something about these creatures, but something funny always seemed to happen as you never can plan for how an animal will react on a stage.

Johnny loved having unpredictable guests. It allowed him to improvise and gave the audience something truly unexpected, providing them a chance to laugh after a hard day at work. After all, many of us tuned into The Tonight Show to escape our troubles. We wanted to laugh!

When Joan brought two baby orangutans on the show, we knew we were in for something special. The little guys are adorable and they were soaking in being on The Tonight Show set. Johnny was particularly fond of a very young orangutan named Oliver who was dressed in an adorable outfit while sporting bed head.

Carson Meets Baby Orangutan

The two-and-a-half-month-old orangutan immediately put his arm around Johnny when the host took him. Rather than acting scared, Oliver looked bored. When Joan said that Oliver is advanced for his age, Johnny quipped back, “He looks like he’s stoned right now!”

Johnny very much enjoyed holding this adorable orangutan. The smile on his face was infectious and many of us watching caught that smile too as we wanted to be holding Oliver!


Johnny was at his best when he had animals on his shows. He always made it hilarious, even when the furry and feathered creatures didn’t perform as they were expected. This was classic Johnny Carson and a great example of why we loved him so much!

Mentioned in this article:

More About: