Remembering Johnny
as told to Bill Martin

Johnny Carson

Where does one start? Always, as a boy while growing up in Saudi Arabia, television was not approved of; especially American television. Though Allah had blest our land with great petroleum riches and many Saudi families could afford the television, most people believed that the appearance and behavior of the people who appeared on the television were at odds with both the teachings of the Holy Koran and the words of the Prophet. For the most part my father, the owner of a large and most successful construction company, agreed, with a single exception; he was obsessed with the American television show "Bonanza" and never would he miss a single episode.

He identified with the character of the father, Ben Cartwright. Like Ben, he was a man of great wealth and power and had many sons, but whereas my father had seven wives, Ben had only one, who was dead. This, I believe, my father envied greatly. When the show debuted I was four years old and , of course, had already been given my name, but fate was not so kind in the next few years to my little brothers, Hoss, Adam, and Little Joe. They suffered terribly the chidings of their classmates. For children in Rihad the show came on at six a.m. We would watch it with my father and then he would leave for work. Then the magic began; at least for me, because two hours and a half later, at 9:30 a.m., like a crier atop a mosque summoning the faithful to prayer, the great booming voice of Ed McMahon would proclaim "Heeeere's Johnny!!" I was in heaven, not just at the humor, (my favorite character was "The Great Karnak," a thinly-veiled parody of Egyptian President Nasser), but at the sight of such women as only Satan himself could have created to tempt a man. For many years my teenage dreams were haunted by Charo, and the lovely Angie Dickinson. I would awake sitting bolt upright and covered in sweat to learn from Hoss or Little Joe that I had been calling out the name of Farrah Fawcett. It was humiliating. But I did not blame Johnny. I realized that the only reason that he smoked and Ed drank was their constant exposure to these scantily-clad women. Who would not smoke? I understood that it was a test from Allah. I began to speak out publicly against the influence of American television, often using one-liners from Johnny's monologue of the night before to "break the ice." I was becoming known as a stand-up comic. When members of the crowd would heckle me, I would turn to material from the great Don Rickles to put them in their place. I would compare American politics to "The Price is Right" and "Let's Make a Deal." Word spread of my comedy until it reached the ears of my father. He was enraged. He took away the television and cut my weekly allowance to less than fifty thousand dollars, U.S. currency.

I thought things could get no worse when it was announced that Johnny was to retire. Outcast and alone I wandered into the desert. For over two years I did not speak; even a one-liner. I prayed to Allah for a way to be shown to me in which I might take revenge not only upon my father and the Royal Family, but upon the American government which had somehow, I sensed, forced Johnny to retire against his will. I determined to somehow train Freedom Fighters. They were to be called "Johnny's Angels" as a tribute; but how could I accomplish this without funds?

I returned to the Saudi capitol of Rihad to pay my respects to Hoss, Little Joe, and Adam. The night was spent in a tearful and joyous reunion. The next morning a servant awoke me to say there was a large American man at the door of my home and a television crew. I opened my front door to find myself staring into the friendly face of Ed McMahon himself. He informed me that I had won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes Grand Prize of over forty-two million dollars. I fell to my kness praising both Allah and Johnny. It was the Beginning of the Jihad!


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