Jay Leno Says Goodbye to “The Tonight Show”
Let’s get this out of the way, I’m a Conan O’Brien and David Letterman fan. For all intents and purposes, the media tells me I should despise Jay Leno. I don’t. He’s not my favorite comedian. I find what he did to David Letterman distasteful, but it’s been over 20 years and the two men now talk to each other again. I also think he should have left NBC after they handed The Tonight Show to Conan. However, things get nasty when two people are battling over their dream job. For years ago Jay came out looking bad, yet so did Conan. The real loser was NBC.
Instead of hating Jay, I understand that he’s vanilla. Something bland that the remains of an aging mainstream America falls asleep watching. I am not his target audience. In spite of it all, I watched the last Tonight Show with Jay Leno expecting something more than a typical show. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. NBC’s making a big deal about the changing of the guard at The Tonight Show, but Jay went out with a whimper. It was an average show that focuses more on the past than normal, which is saying something for a show hosted by a guy still making Monica Lewinsky jokes in 2001.
During his monologue, Jay joked about everything expected of him. Joke about marijuana? Check. Joking about Justin Bieber being a twerp? Check. The only deference to the occasion was that the jokes compared 1992 to the present. Jay really didn’t need to wait until his finale for these jokes. They weren’t even appropriate for the occasions.
As for Jay’s last guests, Jay had Billy Crystal, which continued the tradition of having your first guest be your last guest. Again, it was nothing special. Sure, Billy came out with the “Shut Your Von Trapp Choir” featuring Jack Black, Carol Burnett, Kim Kardashian, and Oprah Winfrey. Each person made a joke. Jack Black was the one who made the obvious joke: if Fallon tanks, Jay will be back next year. The other guest, Garth Brooks, sang two songs. Basically, nothing out of the ordinary.
At the end (but before Brooks sang his second song), Jay said goodbye to everyone. He reiterated that his staff is like family. We finally found out why and it was heartbreaking. He lost his mother, father, and brother within a short time span, so his show’s staff was all the family he had. If you don’t find that heartbreaking, you have no soul. I don’t care how hardcore a Conan, Letterman, or Jimmy Kimmel fan you are, that one anecdote gave an enormous insight into Jay Leno.
While I have mixed feelings about seeing Jay go, because he’s not truly done with The Tonight Show until he’s dead (No, I’m not hoping. Shame on you.), I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. If there’s one thing that can be said, it’s that Jay Leno did his job well.
For those of you wondering what Conan had to say, he took the highest road a comedian can take: only making one joke about someone you hate. He said “The Olympics start airing tonight on NBC. It’s very cool. That’s right, NBC has the Olympics. It’s a big deal. NBC will finally get to show somebody who is OK with passing the torch.”
Conan handled the situation well. He allowed himself one good joke and moved on. Anything less his audience would have felt cheated. Anything more would have proven he still hasn’t moved on.
Posted on February 7, 2014, in Comedy, Late Night, NBC, Network Television, Talk Shows and tagged Carol Burnett, conan o'brien, david letterman, Jack Black, jay leno, jay's finale show, jimmy fallon, late night, nbc, talk show, the tonight show, tonight show with jay leno. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.