The MediaLog MediaFix: "The Jack Paar Program" (1963)

Today's MediaFix is a 1963 monologue by the great television humorist Jack Paar, who occupied the host's chair of "The Tonight Show" after Steve Allen and before Johnny Carson, from 1957 to 1962. Paar was unlike the other "Tonight Show" hosts in that he relied less on the kind of (sometimes wacky) sketch comedy and topical monologues of Allen, Carson, and Jay Leno, and more on a sort of gentle conversational humor that may have topical elements but was ultimately more interested in poking at broader human foibles.

That humor perspective is in full flower in this monologue, which is not from "The Tonight Show" but from Paar's subsequent prime-time talk-variety show that aired on NBC from 1962 to 1965 (and was very similar to Paar's "Tonight Show"). It demonstrates how Paar combined light topicality with good-humored prodding at the privileged class. Madame Nhu, first lady of Vietnam, movie producer Sam Spiegel, and Jackie Kennedy's sister "Princess" Radziwill are all broadly topical figures that would have been known to contemporary early-1960s audiences. Paar's jesting at their expense, though, is not caustic or sharp in the ways of Carson and Leno, but rather pokes fun at such things as Spiegel's yacht and Radziwill's royal pretensions. Even with this gentler approach Paar (with help from his writers) also demonstrates a savvy comedic sense, weaving throughout the monologue ribbing of Spiegel and the theme of items from society columns.

No comments: