Really does seem like a long time ago. From the Daily Beast:
Aug. 31, 1982, is one of those dates that is seared into my head, like a personal 1066 or 1776. That was my first appearance on The Tonight Show, which was the gateway to a career in my chosen field, stand-up comedy. It was the baccalaureate of stand-up, a test you took early on that would decide the rest of your life. If you did well, you'd get invited back and you might be on to a career. If you didn't, it was pretty much over. You might do other shows, but the goal was always to do other shows in order to get The Tonight Show, and you'd blown that. One thing I loved about Johnny Carson and I try to emulate at every turn: he was ruthless.
My next appearance was, out of the 30 I wound up doing with Johnny, the really bad one. Dec. 8, 1983, is also seared into my brain. I did an edgy bit critical of President Reagan, which was stupid because I must have known that Johnny's producer Fred de Cordova directed Bedtime for Bonzo and thought he was Reagan's best friend. He was livid, and I got chewed out after the show. I thought my goose was cooked over there. I will never know what was said behind closed doors the next day when the staff reviewed the previous night, but I know how shows work. There's only one person who could have saved my ass, and that was Johnny Carson. He must have said, "OK, so he -f--ked up, he's a kid ..."
Maher guesses that if Carson went up against Jay Leno in 1965, Johnny would have won. In 2000, Jay would have won. "I would not want to see Johnny Carson try to survive in this age, competing with YouTube and videogames and tapped-out attention spans; that's not who he was," Maher writes. "His era breathed a little, and I miss it. I miss him, and always will."