A long running bit on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Carson would appear in a turban and cloak as "Carnac the Magnificent" . Ed McMahon would hand him stack of sealed envelopes with questions. "Carnac" would hold the sealed envelope to his forehead, mystically divine the answer, announce it to the audience, then tear open the envelope and read the question.

CARNAC: Piggly Wiggly
McMAHON1: Piggly Wiggly
Rip!
CARNAC: Describe Kermit the Frog's wedding night.
rimshot

The "Carnac" bit featured a number of standard components, including McMahon's introduction2 and Carnac's mock Middle Eastern insults to the audience when a joke bombed3.

The one I remember most clearly was one where Johnny lost it during the skit:

CARNAC: Sis-boom-bah.
Carson start to giggle.
McMAHON: Sis-boom-bah.
Carson composes himself and rips open the envelope.
CARNAC: (reading) The sound an exploding sheep makes.
Carson collapses in laughter.


Servo5678 says: Carnac lives on as a gag on Late Show with David Letterman. Every now and then they play Stump the Band and Paul becomes confused and puts on the Carnac turban and does a Carnac-style joke before Dave tells him he's doing the wrong segment.


  1. Ed McMahon always repeated the punchline.
  2. McMAHON: "I hold in my hand these envelopes. As a child of four can plainly see, these envelopes have been hermetically sealed. They've been kept in a #2 mayonnaise jar since noon today on Funk and Wagnall's porch. No one knows the contents of these envelopes, but you, in your divine and mystical way, will ascertain the answers to these questions having never seen them before."
  3. CARNAC: "May the winds of the Sahara blow a desert scorpion up your turban."

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