November 13, 2014 10:00 AM EST

The story of how Dick Cavett got his start isn’t a secret: as recounted in the 1971 TIME cover story about the star, he was working at this magazine as a copy boy — a now-obsolete gofer gig — when he wrote a few jokes meant for Jack Paar, brought them across the street to bring to the Tonight Show host, had them read on the show and eventually got hired as a writer. And the TIME-comedy links didn’t stop there. As Cavett tells it in his new book, Brief Encounters, he also used his access to the magazine’s files to track down entertainment icon Stan Laurel.

Much of Brief Encounters is devoted to Cavett’s observations about how the world has changed — so, on the occasion of his book’s release, Cavett came back to visit the place where he got his start. And, he discovered, even when it comes to office space, time refuses to stand still.

Read the Dick Cavett cover story, here in the TIME Vault: The Art of Show and Tell

More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Francesca Trianni at francesca.trianni@time.com and Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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