I would state this is such a void in the comedy world, but Carson was so good to his word about retiring that to most of the public and the industry, the void was already there. And that’s admirable. The fact he just left with grace, didn’t look for applause in a society where it increasing seems everyone wants fame and attention, it’s absolutely refreshing.
His only public contributions since 1992 seem to be a couple of New Yorker casuals and those recently announced monologue bits for Letterman. From my reading, the only reason why they ended up in the media was the small circle of friends Carson kept in touch with encouraged him to contribute his talent. It sounds like the act of a young comic trying to make his way in the business, except absent of any of the ambition and done for the pure joy of creation.
More ruminations as they come, but here’s a collection of links (some from TVTattle):
NY Times: Obiturary
NY Times: Carson Never Stopped Writing Jokes.
NY Times: Carson’s Last Monologue
NY Times: Goodbye to Carson’s Tonight Show from 1992
MSNBC: TV Died when Carson Left “Tonight”
Salon: Johnny Carson Profile from 2001
Salon: Quotes from Others on Carson (A good example of why Carson was private - much classier way of living.)
New Yorker Profile
Slate’s Celebration of Carson as “Naughty Genius”