In terms of raw charisma, there may not be two individuals with more of it than Johnny Carson and Dolly Parton.
But when you put two people like that together, it doesn’t always translate to pure fun and entertainment. Sometimes, things get a bit more real. Well, with Johnny Carson, they get a real for a moment before getting back to the comedy.
That’s exactly what happened when Dolly Parton joined Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show for a chat in 1977. The subject turned to the topic of people making jokes at Dolly’s expense. Her bombastic personality and looks seemingly invited people to kid about the country legend.
Carson brought up that many people make jokes, but that Parton also does take plenty of self-referencing jabs.
“I do it because I choose to but there’s a lot of jokes,” Parton said. “It used to [bother me] when I was real young in the business, when I first moved to Nashville. I didn’t quite know how to take it, but anymore, there isn’t a roadshow on the road that doesn’t make jokes. A lot of music people, good friends do jokes.”
Parton then goes on to get specific, not naming the artist or group, but bringing up the bit.
“There’s one act,” Parton said. “‘Do you know what’s worse than a giraffe with a sore throat?’ And they say, ‘No, what?’ and it’s, ‘Dolly Parton with a chest cold.'”
Even in the somewhat serious moment, the audience laughs and Carson and Dolly also chuckle. As she says shortly after, “You have to get used to it.”
Dolly Parton and Johnny Carson Talk About Her Assets
Whether you think it’s appropriate conversation or not, Dolly Parton has never really shied from talking about her physique. It’s part of her whole show business personality and she doesn’t look at it like something that needs to be ignored.
So when Carson asks if she’s always been, uh, stacked, she first lists how they might describe it in the south.
“I can’t say,” Dolly starts. “Healthy, I guess. Bosom-y? But… What’d you ask me before that? I’ve always been pretty well blessed. People are always asking if they’re real.”
Carson interjects to jokingly say, “I would never. I have certain guidelines on the show… But I would give about a year’s pay to peak under there.”
That kind of crack is an example of different times and what was acceptable, but it’s worth noting that Dolly does cackle. Like she’s said, she’s not above jokes about her personality or physique.
He tries to save some face, but only as the audience is whistling and hollering.
“I can’t tell you how tacky I feel.”