For anyone who grew up in the 60s and onwards, there is no doubt whatsoever that Johnny Carson was the absolute king of late night talk shows. During his absolutely massive 30-year career as the host of The Tonight Show, Carson set the gold standard for all talk show hosts to come, thanks to his easygoing, conversational interview style, absolutely flawless sense of comedy, and his natural charm and charisma.
It wasn't just that Carson was a great interviewer either. The man was a gifted comedian that knew exactly how to read an audience, and his career in both standup comedy and sketch comedy reflect that just as well as his talk show hosting.
Whether it was as his most famous characters like Carnac the Magnificent or Art Fern, or in the numerous sketches found on his side venture, The Johnny Carson Show, his comedic stylings knew just how to tickle our funny bones and get everyone to laugh. He even showed up on an early episode of The Simpsons to show a new generation of comedians exactly how it's done!
Of course, comedy is a pretty subjective thing, and every comedian eventually runs into a tough crowd that they have to work extra hard to please. While I'm sure Johnny had plenty of encounters with a rough audience in his time, I'm also pretty sure he'd say that the roughest was the time when his act led to him getting roughed up by mafiosos...