Monday, January 24, 2005

Louis Nye vs. Charlie Weaver. Tough Call.

If you are a certain age -- a lot of certain ages, actually -- the great debate is between Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and David Letterman. But if you are somewhat older, the great debate is between Steve Allen and Jack Paar, with a connoisseur's preference for Dick Cavett.

That said, the great thing about Carson was that he never asked you to love him, as Leno does, or flinch from his barbs, as Letterman does. He was cool, friendly and self-contained, never needy.

Now, Jack Paar was very needy, in the sense that I always felt my regard was the only thing between him and a psychotic break. I wasn't supposed to respond to that febrile quality, but as an "early adapter" of the television experience, I hadn't learned it was supposed to be a cool medium. Carson taught me to calm down, to take what was offered and not get too excited.

Then he moved the show to LA. There's cool, and there's dead.


B. Wieder said...

Actually, I think Louis Nye was part of the Man In The Street repertory group that included Bill Dana and Tom Posten and Don Knotts, which was a feature of Allen's Sunday show as opposed to The Tonight Show. But I could be wrong. In any case, given those parameters, for me its a case of Dayton Allen (the "Whyyyy Not?" guy) versus Alexander King (pink ties, engaging bullshit raconteur), with Allen (or Allen) winning going away.

Anonymous said...

And what about Charlie Weaver? I live within 20 miles of Mount Ida, the town meant to exemplify the hillbilly virtues of the mountain folk as well as their low cunning. The annual festival named after him began calling itself something else this year. "Nobody knows who he was anymore," the nice English lady at the chamber of commerce told me. Nothing much happens very slowly in Mount Ida.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

"Hi Ho, Steverino." I remember that. And the hat, the jaunty short-brimmed hat, which looked awfull sharp to me. That's Nye. Charlie Weaver had a hat, too, also sterotypical, a bit *tatty*. Charlie weaver made me laugh and laugh, I remember. We lived down in the valley not up in the hills, in a city of about 100,000, and were therefore confident in our comparative Southern sophistication. Really, Virginia is more of Middle Atlantic state, we would say. But we were wrong. Mt. Idy. That's how Charlie Weaver said it. it never occurred to me it was a real place.

B. Wieder said...

I feel ridiculous adding mileage to this subject for no damn reason, but for the record, Charlie Weaver was the nom de bumpkin of Cliff Arquette, the grandfather (I believe) of the current generation of acting Arquettes (as opposed to permanent Arquettes). Stop me before I comment again.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

I had forgotten the guy's name and not only his name. A little light TV watching just reminded me of Clifford Irving and the great Howard Hughes autobiography hoax. Well, as Tennyson said, though much is taken, much abides. I hope.