Monday, February 17, 2014

Ding, Dong the Witch Is Dead! (Maybe)

Tonight at midnight Jimmy Fallon becomes the latest host of the historical and prestigious The Tonight Show as it moves back to its original home, New York City. I am thrilled for Jimmy, and so glad to see a comic of such brilliance get his his opportunity is such a big spot. His stint on The Late Show gave us some truly great moments, and I wish him well as he begins this new adventure. I also pray for his job security...

Those who know me well know that I dearly love David Letterman. I realize that Dave is an acquired taste, and has always been too edgy for lots of people. But many of his shows over the years have made for historic TV moments- such as his first show back after 9/11, his interviews with political figures, and countless bits- the Top 10 lists, Stupid Human Tricks and so many more- that have found their way into the public consciousness. I have been fortunate enough to be in his studio audience on 3 different occasions. I find him to be unique, creative and inventive. Not to mention hysterical. And I am not alone. Many of the world's best comics are huge fan's of Dave, and have not been afraid to say so. Included on that list are Jimmy Kimmel (who pretty much worships Dave), Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Conan O'Brien. These current late night hosts all see Dave as a role model- as does Fallon. And it is so exciting to think that beginning tonight they will all be sharing late night together, one big happy family of hosts. Because FINALLY...probably....maybe...Jay Leno is gone. For good. Ding dong the witch is dead!

I am aware there are many people who have watched Leno over the years, and that his ratings have usually been better than those of his competitors. This is something I have never understood. He stole The Tonight Show job some 20 years ago despite the fact that the only true KING of late night, the late Johnny Carson, had handpicked Letterman to be his heir. That was strike one. Strike two was the way he snaked Conan some 5 years ago, giving him the The Tonight Show and then yanking it out from under him when his own ill-conceived 10 PM nightly show crashed and burned, pretty much taking an entire network down with him. NBC has yet to recover from that debacle. But the big strike- the one that has been constant in my opinion- is that Jay Leno was never funny. Actually, my favorite Leno memory is from his voice acting as the Crimson Chin on the great animated series Fairly Odd Parents. His most famous bit from The Tonight Show is "Jay-Walking," which he ripped off from Howard Stern (as Stern is quick to bring up every time he appears on Letterman). He has no memorable characters and very few noteworthy bits. He also has no respect from his peers. Jon Stewart once said that there had been no original material on the show since Johnny left. Kimmel went on Jay's show and skewered him for his treatment of Conan. And when Letterman had Conan on his show shortly after that outrage, thew two of them just sat and smiled at each other for a minute before Dave said, "You know the longer we just sit here the more nervous Jay gets." Many of the world's funniest people have gone on record as saying Leno is not funny. I agree. And now finally, he is gone. Again. Maybe...

So despite my long-standing "relationship" with Dave, tonight I will be up and watching Jimmy Fallon assume the throne of one of the greatest franchises in television history. I truly hope that millions will join me, and that the ratings will be so good that NBC will be asking "Jay who?" in a very short period of time. Because otherwise, I can't help but think that Leno will be hanging around the office of the network looking for another opportunity to to show his his big...chin. So good luck, Jimmy. I've got your back. I think we are entering a new golden age of late night TV. And I'm looking forward to the ride!

And in case you are wondering...of COURSE I'll be recording Letterman tonight. I'm no traitor...


  1. Susan McBane Tuggle2/17/2014

    But what do you really think?

    1. What? Too subtle, Susan? :)

  2. I loved the fact that Carson wrote jokes for Letterman after Leno took over....right up until he died. Carson was a class act.

    1. That is a great piece of history, James. Johnny loved Dave like a son.


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