Each night was the same format: he would start with a stand-up routine about current affairs. When that was done he would have several guests, and not just celebrities. Musicians, artists, zoologists, other comedians....they all wanted to sit and chat with Johnny. Sometimes he would do skits making fun of movies or TV or commercials. The 90 minutes (and later, just one hour) would fly by.
Besides being an easy-going host he was also a wicked stand-up comedian. Even when he floundered...or maybe especially when he flubbed?....he was hilarious, as this proves, as he is trying to make a joke about President Reagan's defense and educational policies.
And of course, any fan of Johnny Carson knows exactly who Carnac The Magnificent is. Here's a clip from 1974. Some of the jokes are dated, but most are not. :-)
Here's Dave Letterman talking to Johnny in August 1991. The count-down to Johnny's last show had started (he left in May 1992). Here Dave talks about "The Tonight Show" going to Jay Leno instead of to him. Consider their very different styles...and smile ironically when Dave says that he probably won't be a host for anywhere near as long as Johnny had been...more than 20 years ago. :-)
Sadly, Johnny died in 2005.
Happy Birthday, Johnny Carson!!