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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Joan Rivers

Brash, bold and outspoken, Joan Rivers came to The Tonight Show on February 17th, 1965, as a veteran of small stages in Greenwich Village. During her debut, she didn't just dazzle the audience with her feminist slant on life and relationships (while remaining unafraid to go for the jugular), she endeared herself to Carson, too. While she would show up regularly on Ed Sullivan and Dick Cavett, it was The Tonight Show that was her home for quite some time. Their professional relationship flourished after this appearance, with Rivers filling in for Carson regularly until the fateful day she accepted The Late Show without consulting with him first. The duo never reconciled, though Rivers finally did make it back to Tonight Show on the Jimmy Fallon just months before she died in 2014.

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