Carson Helped Al Gore

As vice president, Al Gore learned that the most disarming way to counter his wooden image was to tell better jokes about himself than the late-night comedians did. Mr. Gore now says he received occasional tutoring on those one-liners from the master of the television monologue, Johnny Carson.

Mr. Gore said he had telephoned Mr. Carson on several occasions in the mid-1990’s to seek his guidance on “timing and delivery.”

“He let me call him up and bounce jokes off him and he would give me advice on the presentation of gags,” said Mr. Gore, who said he had initially approached the retired “Tonight Show” host through a mutual friend. “It was such a privilege.”

Mr. Gore said that Mr. Carson, who died in January, had even given him a couple of jokes. But Mr. Carson’s greatest contribution, Mr. Gore said, came in 1994, when over the telephone he walked Mr. Carson through a skit he intended to do before a black-tie Washington dinner known as the Gridiron.

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