Johnny Carson knew a thing or two about reaching an audience.
So after seeing his show turn into a laugh riot by the appearance of a 10-year-old rabbit called Nobunny, Carson famously said: “Never follow an animal act.”
Frankly, I’m beginning to grasp what Carson meant.
Now that I’ve introduced Sammie the Cat to the populace of North Idaho, she’s getting enough fan mail to rate her own column.
No reason I should be surprised.
People love animals, pets especially, and everyone has a tale to tell about a dog, ferret or cockatiel.
Needless to say, I think Sammie the Cat is the most fascinating creature in the Western Hemisphere — allowing for a slight bias, of course.
Sammie’s latest gig involves ignoring her water bowl and waiting until someone uses a faucet in the kitchen or bathroom.
She’s on the sink in a flash, and will happily slurp water — splashing her head in the process — as long as the tap is flowing.
I think she’s hilarious, obviously, but I’m angry with myself for not hiring an agent and going big time.
On the other hand, former major league ballplayer Keith Hernandez now has a Coke sponsorship for clips of himself doing nothing much at all with his cat, Hadji.
As best I can tell, Hadji’s “talent” seems to be lying motionless on Hernandez’s shoulder — imitating the work of a taxidermist — while Keith says something exciting, like, “Let’s go get the newspaper, Hadji.”
For the record, Hadji doesn’t actually fetch the paper, nor do anything but appear half-asleep.
Hernandez doesn’t look to be dozing himself, but that’s not the point.
Surely I could have amused the Coca-Cola board of directors with Sammie’s various skills. I mean, Sammie the Cat’s antics make Hadji look like he’s stoned.
Doggone it, why don’t everyday folks like us think about our pets becoming famous?
Meanwhile, Hadji has his name on special Coke cans, he’s everywhere on YouTube and Hernandez somehow has turned this publicity stunt into a cat who’s gone viral — for just lying around and having a nap.
ONE THING is patently obvious.
I’m not the only one with a pet more interesting than the yawning Hadji.
My neighbors, Tim and Sherri, have a cat named Gumbo with seven toes. That’s seven on each paw, for a total of 28.
Take that, Hadji.
So here, right now, is your invitation to share whatever seems cool about your own pet (or pets).
My address is right at the bottom of this column, so send in some stories, photos, or whatever floats your boat.
Can your parrot sing the Star-Spangled Banner?
Do you have a Great Dane who drives down to pick up a six-pack of beer?
C’mon, you might not have a world-class beast like Sammie the Cat (I’m thinking of a copyright on that name), but surely we can put that sleepy Hadji into the shade, no?
There must be a dog in the county who can barbecue steaks. Or a rabbit who salutes the flag.
Take up the challenge, North Idaho.
Don’t leave Sammie the Cat to fight this publicity blitz by herself.
Steve Cameron is a columnist for The Press. A Brand New Day appears Wednesday through Saturday each week.