Claim: Tonight Show host Johnny Carson once delivered a humorous monologue about ‘What Democracy Means to Me.’
Example: [Carson, 1991]
“What Democracy Means to Me”
by Johnny Carson
To me, democracy means placing trust in the little guy, giving the fruits of nationhood to those who built the nation. Democracy means anyone can grow up to be president, and anyone who doesn’t grow up can be vice president.
Democracy is people of all races, colors, and creeds united by a single dream: to get rich and move to the suburbs away from people of all races, colors, and creeds. Democracy is having time set aside to worship —
Democracy is buying a big house you can’t afford with money you don’t have to impress people you wish were dead. And,
unlike communism, democracy does not mean having just one ineffective political party; it means having two ineffective political parties.
Democracy means freedom of sexual choice between any two consenting adults; Utopia means freedom of choice between three or more consenting adults. But I digress. Democracy is welcoming people from other lands, and giving them something to hold onto — usually a mop or a leaf blower. It means that with proper timing and scrupulous bookkeeping, anyone can die owing the government a huge amount of money.
Democracy means a thriving heartland with rolling fields of Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Spanky, and Wheezer. Democracy means our elected officials bow to the will of the people, but more often they bow to the big butts of campaign contributors.
Yes, democracy means fighting every day for what you deserve, and fighting even harder to keep other weaker people from getting what they deserve. Democracy means never having the Secret Police show up at your door. Of course, it also means never having the cable guy show up at your door. It’s a tradeoff. Democracy means free television. Not good television, but free.
Democracy is being able to pick up the phone and, within a minute, be talking to anyone in the country, and, within two minutes, be interrupted by call waiting.
Democracy means no taxation without representation, and god knows, we’ve just about had the hell represented out of us. It means the freedom to bear arms so you can blow the “o” out of any rural stop sign you want.
And finally, democracy is the eagle on the back of a dollar bill, with
I thank you.
reminiscences as friends, associates, and fans all discussed and shared their memories of favorite bits from Johnny’s three-decade tenure as the king of talk show hosts. Some of those memories were apocryphal, however, as Johnny Carson has long been the figure to whom any number of unsourced jokes, risqué comments, or witticisms supposedly uttered on television have been attributed.
We’re pleased, therefore, to be able to report that the monologue transcribed above (an oft-quoted piece which was reproduced widely in the days after Johnny’s passing) is a genuine example of
Last updated: 1 February 2005