Paul Reiser Salutes His Comedy Hero Johnny Carson

[photo: Michael Brosilow]
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Growing up in New York City, Paul Reiser was a huge fan of Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show.

"It was just the coolest place in the world to be.  People would seemingly just drop by.  It was like a great party we were never invited to," Reiser joked.

In 1982, Reiser made his debut on The Tonight Show as a stand-up comedian.

"When you're a kid and want to be a comedian you envision specifically [being on] The Tonight Show," Reiser said.

Now decades later Reiser has produced a new show that pays tribute to his hero - There's Johnny - currently streaming on Hulu.

"There's Johnny" cast [courtesy: Hulu]

Reiser long wanted to create a show that would feature historic clips from The Tonight Show archives. 

"We had to approach [Carson's] company.  They were open to it but always very protective and like, 'Let's wait a bit.'  So we'd leave it alone and every two or three years I'd call them up and be like, 'How about now?' and finally they were like, 'Yeah let's do it,'" Reiser said.

While There's Johnny is set in the 1970s, Reiser recently revisited the 1980s when he joined the cast of the Netflix hit Stranger Things.

Showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer cast Reiser because his film resume included so many classics from the '80s.

"I was surprised they were familiar with me because they were literally half my age.  I assumed it was because they grew up on Aliens.  And they said, 'certainly that,' but in fact their father raised them on Diner.  That's a pretty wide spectrum of film right there," Reiser said.

The Duffer brothers offered him the role of Dr. Sam Owens who looks after the young Will Byers upon his return from the infamous "Upside Down" at the conclusion of Season 1.

"Stranger Things" [courtesy: Netflix]

"They called me and said they wanted to meet me because they said: 'We've created this role that we thought of as you. We actually called him Dr. Reiser.  And when we came to cast it we thought we should probably call Paul Reiser.'  Otherwise it would be confusing for Nicholas Cage to be called Dr. Reiser," he joked.

Paul Reiser performs at the Hard Rock Rocksino Saturday, March 24.




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