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A celebration of Johnny Carson — Nebraska’s funniest native son
June 14, 2017 @ 7:00 pm - June 17, 2017 @ 10:00 pm
The Great American Comedy Festival began in 2008 in Norfolk as a way to pay tribute to the legacy of Johnny Carson, who grew up in Norfolk. Since then, the festival has attracted some of the top names in comedy as entertainers — Drew Carey, Robert Klein, “Saturday Night Live’s” Jim Breuer, Paula Poundstone and Louie Anderson, to name a few. The festival also each year presents the Johnny Carson Comedy Legend award. Recipients on hand in Norfolk to receive the award have included Dick Cavett, Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, Dave Steinberg, Stephen Wright and Fred Willard.
In 2016, the festival featured a panel discussion featuring three producers from the Carson, Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon eras of “The Tonight Show.” One was Jeff Sotzing, Johnny’s nephew and current head of Carson Entertainment.
In looking ahead to 2017, Sotzing approached festival organizers about planning something big and special to coincide with the festival’s 10th anniversary and the fact that 2017 will be the 25th anniversary of Carson stepping down as host of “The Tonight Show.” So plans are underway for a special Johnny Carson celebration next summer with Sotzing’s help that will feature past festival winners, top headliners and, possibly, a panel discussion of “Tonight Show” writers. It should be a special and fun week in Norfolk, and a great way to also celebrate Nebraska’s 150th.