It’s been a while since Johnny Carson’s presence graced late night TV. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson went off the air in 1992, and the legend himself passed away in 2005. But every now and then, it feels like Carson is back with us; specifically, when Kevin Spacey guests of Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show and trots out his essentially perfect impression of the talk show icon.
Spacey was a guest on Fallon’s show last night, and although it wasn’t really called for, he found a way to bring the impression back out anyway, while playing a character coincidentally named Johnny for a segment called “MasterClass Junior.” In the bit, Spacey and Fallon acted out scenes inspired by House of Cards, except the scenes were written by children with no knowledge of the show and only given the title as a writing prompt. Fallon decided to follow suit once he realized that Spacey was doing his impression, and it turns out that Fallon also has a commendable Carson impersonation in his arsenal.
For those not familiar with Spacey’s rich history of Johnny Carson impressions, he’s done it a few times with Fallon: During an interview from May 2014, he told a story about how he used to impersonate Carson while bored at menial jobs or to get into theater productions. Then, in October 2014, he did a “Wheel of Impressions” segment on the show and spoke as Carson talking about going to a costume party. Today, that video has upwards of 25 millions views, meaning that if Spacey goes on Fallon’s show and doesn’t do a Carson bit, it would surely be a disappointment.