Archive - Jun 2, 2009

Chinny Chin Chin

« June 2009 »


Pardon me while I get caught up on a sentiment that's been kicking around since last week, but has been bumped for more important and relevant sentiments. FUCK JAY LENO.

As you have by no doubt heard and heard and heard again, Jay Leno left The Tonight Show after seventeen years. His last show was Friday. Conan O'Brien took over last night. And thus, a big fuss was made. A big, fat, unnecessary fuss. Like two extra inches of fuss jutting from the bottom of pop culture's face. And you know why everyone made a fuss?

Because seventeen years ago, they made a big fuss about Johnny Carson leaving. And that set a precedent. When Johnny Carson took OVER hosting The Tonight Show, we didn't have the kind of cultural memory required to set the precedent. And when he finally retired, he'd been doing it for so long, and was so synonymous with the show, that it was a big deal.

Jay Leno leaving is not a big deal, because after seventeen years, guess what? Johnny Fucking Carson is still synonymous with The Tonight Show. And you know why? Because Jay Leno isn't funny. Johnny Carson wasn't funny at the end either, but at least he had an excuse. He was a product of a time where the stuff he did WAS funny. He'd built up enough credit that he could coast as an elder statesman of cornball. His schtick had nostalgia value.

But Leno? Leno walked into the job a sub-par comic whose best days were a decade behind him. Days that weren't that great to begin with. What memorable comedic moments occurred on his watch? What did he bring to the job that will live on, that people will remember fondly? Nothing. And even Jay knows it. Check out this bit from the finale:

"..he noted to the audience that he wanted his legacy from the show to be not bits like 'Jaywalking,' but the children born to staff members who met while working on 'Tonight.' The curtain raised and all 68 of those offspring waved from center stage while Leno tickled a wandering tot." - Reuters.

That's sad. If you're looking back at 17 years of comedy and interviewing, and the best thing you can think of is that people who worked for you were banging each other? That's not your legacy, Jay, unless you had a much bigger... hand in the impregnation than you're letting on. Jay Leno's legacy is the residual heat his ass left in the host's chair.

Also, when Johnny Carson retired, Johnny Carson went the fuck away. Jay Leno's not going away, he's moving up an hour so he can...fuck if I know. Maybe he things human beings will stop reproducing if he doesn't provide a workplace for them to meet. If Leno had something to say with his art, he's had 17 years in one of the highest profile gigs in show business to say it. Five days a week, one hour earlier, is not going to suddenly let the real Jay Leno, the brilliant funny guy who's been suppressed for the last two-plus decades, to break free. Whatever Jay is going to do at 10pm Eastern, it's not going to be art, unless being cheaper than five hours of scripted drama has become an art form since the last time I checked.

I wish Conan the best in the time slot, because unlike Jay Leno, Conan is a comedian. I hope he can do something interesting and make The Tonight Show relevant again. But he should have been doing this five years ago. Hell, ten years ago. Leno was like the guest they only invited over because they had an even number of chairs and an odd number of guests, and then was the last one to leave, showing America the funny headlines he found while they yawned and gave meaningful looks at any timepiece in range, looks that Leno ignored until he was good and ready. Fuck that guy.