The Best Comedic Debuts on 'The Tonight Show'

Legendary sets that made careers of Joan Rivers, Jerry Seinfeld, Drew Carey, Garry Shandling, Roseanne and more

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Drew Carey

"I've never been funnier than those seven minutes I was on The Tonight Show," Carey told the Onion AV Club in 2012, when talking about his debut set on Carson. Watching the clip of the jocular Cleveland comic from November 8th, 1991, this point would be hard to debate, as Carey is clearly on the moment he steps onstage. Wearing gleaming Poindexter glasses, a flattop and a wide grin, he says, "Yeah, I know what I look like, thanks." From talk of reunions to weight gain, the set is nearly all self-deprecation, delivered with Carey's speedy murmur, his twitchy, physical energy and more than a few hearty chuckles. One telling quip: "If I put on a bikini underwear, I'd look like a Bartlett pair with a rubber band wrapped around the bottom." His snickering, middle-American everyman is on display here, and this appearance sent him on the way toward The Drew Carey Show, which would air just four years later. 

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