I had never seen this infamous Dick Cavett Show episode (aired on 9.18.70) until a half-hour ago. Honestly. Wow. Shitfaced behavior is often hilarious to other drunks, isn’t it? The idea that these three gifted, accomplished, hard-working guys somehow convinced themselves that vomiting the least intriguing aspects of their personalities onto Cavett’s gray shag carpet…the mind reels.
“In the wings, afterwards, their producer grabbed the three of them, like three kids who are acting up. He got them in a group and said, ‘I really have to congratulate you. You probably unsold more tickets to this movie than most movies get.’ It was a wonderful line. They stood there looking at him, and they started to get shorter. They bowed down. Like kids with their dad berating them. They looked awful. And he really laid into them. It was a sad little scene.
“Honest to God, they never quite got over it, every time I ran into them. I felt embarrassed, but I was never embarrassed for myself, for God’s sake, but for them. It would have been an interesting experiment to see them try it with four different hosts, to see how each handled it. Joan Rivers would’ve killed them. There was a kind of a sad aspect to it, really. I like all those guys. I knew them, each and all, individually. Not that we hung out a lot. But I was very fond of John, I knew him, and Ben I got to know more later. But anytime any of them saw me, they were cowed and sheepish afterwards for years.”