Jan 14, 2010

"The Tonight Show"

I cannot talk too much on the legal terms of this recent debate, nor should I be considered an expert. I, however, am just a 20 year old who has been a fan for close to ten years of almost everyone involved in this.

What is it exactly I am talking about? In thepast week, NBC has announced the cancellation of "The Jay Leno Show" due to low ratings. The show was originally aimed to give host Jay Leno a show and stay with NBC after the highly successful run on "The Tonight Show" was handed over to then current "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien. "The Jay Leno Show" was also originally created to make cheap entertainment that didn't involve a lot of writers or other costly jobs.
But when the bombshell dropped that the show was suffering in the ratings, as well as "The Tonight Show", NBC has done several things to try and improve their problems, for starters moving Jay Leno back to the 11:35 time slot and pushing "The Tonight Show" back to 12:00, which Conan O'Brien doesn't support and will walk if it so happens. It's honestly a personal matter when it comes to me. Let's take a look at my history with Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien:
Jay Leno
I'm not sure the exact date or place I first watched "The Tonight Show", but I am most aware that it had to be Jay Leno. I had missed out on the many decades of Johnny Carson and his significance wouldn't be made relevant until years later, when I became a fan of comedy without boundaries of a decade.
I don't even know why I was watching late night TV, but I was. I remember the early days of doing so included a lot of Will Ferrell-lead "Saturday Night Live". I guess I was either an insomniac or just someone who was always curious of what went on at night.
But I watched and watched and somehow I became a fan. I think on a few occasions, my father would be up watching alongside me when Leno would do segments like "Headlines" and "99 Cent Store Toys" that were both hilariously tragic. I'm not sure where exactly I got it from, but I assume that I got my love of puns from him (or my English teachers, but we'll debate that in another post).
I cannot really explain the thrill of watching it, but it was fun. It was live. Leno was a dynamite host at the time. The interviews were not always ones I'd enjoy, but he just brought so much creativity to the show that even the small frayed corners could be forgiven.
And then there were the times I got to see the show. They filmed in Burbank on the studio lot and my mother and I would make a day out of just going down there and looking at the show and eating at Bob's Big Boyfor breakfast. They were memorable experiences. I can still remember the first time walking into the studio and seeing him on that stage. There was some mysticism about it. The first time has never been topped by how intriguing the set up was and just getting to see him in person. Sure, the show was not like Johnny Carson's version, which I heard in the rumor mill would go on for hours after the cameras went down.
And at the end of the day, my mother and I would stay up together and tape it. We only went three times, and it stopped by 2007, but I still occasionally watched, though devotedly almost upon the announcement of the retirement. I pretty much could remember what it was like to sit in the chairs every time they showed the audience and it brought back fond memories.I even watched the finale in my living room with my "Tonight Show" shirt on. Then, Leno came back with "The Jay Leno Show", which was pretty cool when it first came on. The new stage set up and segments seemed like a breath of fresh air to what he had just came from doing. His jokes were still hit and miss with me, but due to the convenient time slot, I was watching the show quite often.
Of course, I fade in and out of the show based on guests, which often times determine why I don't watch the show for long periods of time. But once I got word of the feud over the cancellation, I decided to watch the show and see just how I felt about the show, which I hadn't seen since Pee-Wee Herman guest starred in December.
In all honesty, it was hard to like it. Leno's humor seemed to have grown more insulting instead of commenting. His attacks at NBC and Conan O'Brien also seemed less inspired upon immediate hearing. His segments were still cool, but his guests were lackluster (a thing I'll only blame on the scheduling, not on Leno's behalf) and featured Heidi Klum and Khloe Kardashian, two faces that were just as depressing to listen to.
In the end of the show, I felt kind of disappointed, not sure if I actually hated Jay Leno or if I was still worrying too much about the NBC mess up. I want to defend Leno, but upon returning to his old time slot, it seems rather selfish and makes me hate him because it gives the impression he doesn't know when to quit and perhaps wants to ruin one of the longest TV franchise legacies in history.
Conan O'Brien
And then there's Conan O'Brien. He's even harder to pin point exactly when I got into him. Sure, he's practically followed Jay Leno for my entire time invested in late night, but he had the weird advantage of being on Comedy Central reruns occasionally as well. It's weird because I remember the first time I watched "The Late Show" with Craig Kilborn (Dido was on) and his significance is barely worthy of mentioning (I haven't sat through his replacement Craig Ferguson yet, though he is more worthy as I loved him on "The Drew Carey Show").
All I know is whenever I had seen him on "Late Night", it was worth going to bed at 1:30. He had this young, vibrant energy that seemed to work. He also had a sharper wit than Jay Leno and his commentary wasn't an annoying sarcasm. I pretty much found it easy to fall in love with him and what my father calls the closest thing to me seeing a modern day Johnny Carson (he said David Letterman once had that appeal, but that hasn't been since his early years).
I loved him so much that I remember doing a report on him in seventh grade. I think by that point I was a stand out individual as I was probably the only one watching the show in my class. I was amazed because his resume also included "Saturday Night Live" and one of the best seasons of "The Simpsons". It was hard for me not to love him, but it was hard to stay up that late every night, so when I watched, he was more special.
I was more psyched to hear he was taking over "The Tonight Show" because while I was into Jay Leno, I was curious to see what he could do. I forgot to watch Conan's last show, but I remember his opening "The Tonight Show" episode rather well, which included a segment of him running from New York to Universal City, CA, where the show is filmed.
Since, he has always been a favorite. I remember once even telling my father that I didn't feel bad for staying up every night for two weeks to watch Conan O'Brien, who at the time was innovating the show very successfully, including segments like Twitter Tracker and Conando. His guests were even top notch and only in the second episode managed to feature Tom Hanks getting hit by an asteroid.
I suppose that is why my immediate dream of last May was to go down and see Conan O'Brien. I put in a request and it failed, but I managed to see Alex the same day, so that made up for it. I have tried since and nothing has come of it, but I would love to go down and see it.
And how has O'Brien been handling it? I watched last night's episode and he took it with as much vengeance as he could without getting physical. He taunted Jay Leno and NBC and guest Ricky Gervais even dropped a few f-bombs and brought a clip that said penis no less than ten times.
While looking back, I realize that was probably just as insulting as Jay Leno, I realize that I probably am favoring Conan O'Brien more and more in this battle simply because I find him funnier.
And also, let's just look at "The Tonight Show" for a minute and what I feel in my mind about the show in general.
I may only be 20, but I somehow display a lot of respect for "The Tonight Show" legacy going back to Johnny Carson, who I only get to see in lackluster "Carson Comedy Classics" every now and then.
My personal feeling is that the show belongs at 11:35 for numerous reasons, notably that it has been there to follow the news and recap with humorous quips the day before breaking into all the gags and fun after midnight.
I really don't think it makes much sense to anyone unless they experience it first hand, and I must say it is quite fun. By moving the show, you are ruining that feeling and possibly ruining what made the show fun to begin with. If Conan O'Brien walks and Jay Leno somehow gets the show back, it will be hypocritical to the selves at NBC and maybe "The Tonight Show" will do well, but it still means that NBC is now playing favoritisms. Either way, I am with Conan O'Brien when he said that by moving Jay Leno back into the time slot, it's going to put the show in jeopardy and possibly just ruin the legacy entirely.
This could be a turn of events that will change how I feel about almost everyone involved. Carson's appointed replacement (who lost to Jay Leno) David Letterman is having a field day with it. While he comes across as more bitter than anything, he brings up strong points and wins some love from me for his support for Conan O'Brien (of whom he's expressed wanting to have on his show).
So to close out this argument, I feel Conan O'Brien should keep the job and we just need to oust Jay Leno and let him go back to doing stand up and living life. In truth, I have found Letterman a more attractive comedian than Leno as of late and often times I would have turned to him for not only guests, but the opening monologue, which at times may be more biting and hit or miss, but shows he never backs down. Of course, I also thought I'd conclude with a look at the other hosts that have kept me up late at night:
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Hosted By: Jimmy Kimmel
On: ABC 12:05 AMThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Hosted By: Jon Stewart
On Comedy Central 11 PMThe Colbert Report
Hosted By: Stephen Colbert
On: Comedy Central 11:30 PM
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Hosted By: Jimmy Fallon
On: NBC 12:37 AM
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
Hosted By: Craig Ferguson
On: CBS 12:37 AMThe Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn
Hosted By: Craig Kilborn
WAS On: CBS 12:37 AMCarson Daly Show
Hosted By: Carson Daly
On: NBC 1 AM

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