Shriner to present Carson Lecture Sept. 13

· 4 min read

Shriner to present Carson Lecture Sept. 13

Wil Shriner
Wil Shriner

Comedian, actor and director Wil Shriner, who has worked more than 20 years both in front of and behind the cameras, will be the next Carson Lecturer on Sept. 13.

Shriner’s Carson Lecture is at 3:30 p.m. in the Howell Theatre, which is located on the first floor of the Temple Building. The event is free and open to the public. Free tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis through the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film’s ticketing website at A free ticket is required for admission. Unclaimed tickets will be distributed on a limited basis 10 minutes before the lecture in the Howell Lobby until all seats are filled.

The biennial Carson Lecture Series has been created to celebrate the contributions of entertainment icon and UNL alumnus Johnny Carson.

“By bringing those who knew or were influenced by Johnny to campus, the community can continue to celebrate Johnny’s contributions to the entertainment industry,” said Paul Steger, director of UNL’s Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film. “The series is also a vehicle for students, faculty and the general public to gain a deeper understanding of the inner workings of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

Shriner appeared on the Tonight Show more than a dozen times.

“There was a magic that Johnny had as a host, as a comedian, as a sketch player and as a comedian,” Shriner said. “And he could relate so well on a cerebral level, on a comedic level, on a silly level. Johnny was the perfect host because he was just a guy that women wanted to sleep with and men wanted to hang out with. I can’t tell you how many people come up and say, ‘Oh my gosh, how we miss Johnny Carson.’ That’s the magic of Carson. He had such a lasting power.”

Shriner started on television at the age of one doing commercials with his twin brother Kin, a soap opera actor, and his father, television humorist Herb Shriner.

Appearing at the famed Comedy Store, alongside another young comedian, David Letterman, Shriner continued as a writer/director on numerous projects and shows with Letterman. It was one of his films that got him noticed by Francis Ford Coppola, and it produced a co-starring role opposite Oscar nominee Joan Allen in “Peggy Sue Got Married.” From there, he hosted his own nationally syndicated and three-time Emmy nominated talk show, The Wil Shriner Show, and dozens of shows and series followed.

In 2000 he began directing sitcoms, and his credits include “Frasier,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Becker,” “Gilmore Girls” and many others.

Jimmy Buffett asked him to read a book he had optioned and together they turned it into an award-winning family film, “Hoot,” which Shriner wrote the screenplay, produced and directed the film. The film was recently named one of the top five environmental films by the Smithsonian Museum.

Shriner continues to be active as a director, comedian and performer.

Johnny Carson was born in Corning, Iowa, on Oct. 23, 1925, and grew up in Norfolk, Neb. He served in World War II in the Navy as an ensign before enrolling at the University of Nebraska in 1947. He received a bachelor of arts degree in radio and speech with a minor in physics in 1949.

He hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 years, from 1962 to 1992. Carson earned six Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received Kennedy Center Honors in 1993.

UNL has received more than $12 million in donations from Carson and the John W. Carson Foundation, including support for theatre, film and broadcasting.

The Department of Theatre Arts was renamed the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film in 2005.

See clips of Wil Shriner on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson at

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