Byron Allen, 18, has officially done his stand-up comedy routine on The Tonight Show only once—last May 17. “But,” he smiles, “I’ve already hosted the show 500 times.” Allen was letting his imagination soar, which he has been doing ever since he began tagging along with his mom, Carolyn Folks, on her rounds as an NBC page in Burbank. At 14, he decided to become a comedian while visiting the sets of Chico and the Man and Sanford and Son. Gabe (Kotter) Kaplan suggested the youngster try out his routine at L.A.’s Comedy Store (“I thought it was a place where you bought jokes”). Soon his mother was chauffering him to club dates there and at the Improvisation. Good Times’ Jimmie Walker spotted his act and paid Allen (the stage name he picked 18 months ago) $100 per session to attend meetings of his writing staff to contribute jokes about school. At 16, Allen was turning down offers of $1,000 a week to write for TV (most recently he said no to Mork and Mindy). Instead, he will enroll in USC this fall. “I want to be a talk show host,” he explains, “and I don’t think you can do that very effectively with just a high school education.” Not that he is postponing show business altogether; Allen has signed with NBC to do on-camera interviews between classes for its new series, Real People.
Joanna Morgan started riding mountain ponies during sheep roundups in her native Wales at the age of 7, bought her own pony at 12 (with $120 she saved) and by 18 had moved on to show jumping. For the past five years Morgan, now 25, has been a professional jockey based in Dublin. So far the 101-pound blonde has ridden 72 horses into the winner’s circle—including a 15-1 shot named Wheat she guided to victory last year at Santa Anita over American superjocks Steve Cauthen and Willie Shoemaker. “In riding terms she is as strong as most men her weight,” says trainer Seamus McGrath of Morgan, who does 100 pushups every night. “But I’m not musclebound,” insists Joanna, who adds, “Over fences, male stamina is an advantage. But on the flat, it’s more knack than strength.” She was slated to be the first woman to ride in the English Derby this June until her mount went lame. Still, she has won enough purses (“I never bet—that’s a mug’s game”) to buy a house near Dublin and a sports car. Like most jockeys, she has taken her share of spills, including one earlier this summer that knocked out several teeth and broke her collarbone. Morgan says she’ll give up riding at 30 because she doesn’t “want to become a haggard old horsey lady.” Meantime, her wish is simply “to be regarded as a good jockey—and to be regarded so by men.”