Jerry Seinfeld stopped by The Tonight Show on Thursday night to perform stand-up comedy and do panel with Jay Leno. In his brief stand-up set, Seinfeld talks about the absurdity of caffeinated alcoholic beverages, the people who "work" in coffeeshops, and the ads for sleep medications. It's all connected.
Roll the clip!
Afterward, Seinfeld caught up with comedian Jimmy Brogan (who used to be the head monologue writer for the Tonight Show), and later also with Leno.
Among the things we learn in this clip: How playing to a Tonight Show audience is different from a club, and how it impacts the jokes and tags you use; that Brogan and Seinfeld both started at the Comic Strip Live in NYC in the mid-1970s; that Seinfeld's first Tonight Show performance was 30 years ago; that Leno borrowed that hideous green suit for his own first appearance for Johnny Carson in 1977; and that Leno unbuttons his shirts too far.
Jay Leno said Monday night that Dan Ahdoot was making his first appearance on The Tonight Show, which is true, but also, more than a year ago, Ahdoot appeared on The Jay Leno Show. So it's not as if they were strangers. Plus, fun fact: Last time I was in Los Angeles, Ahdoot introduced me to Ross Mark and Bob Read, the bookers for Leno!
Entirely coincidental circumstantial evidence. I know.
OK, roll the clip.
Louis CK told his fans on Friday night via Twitter to catch his most recent appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, saying "2nd segment was the funnest time I evr had on a talk show." Sic sic!
So what did you miss if you didn't tune in?
In the first segment, Louis told Jay about how even the process of talking -- what they're both professionally doing at that very moment -- is a weird task, then answers Leno's question about his stand-up comedy tour by explaining how little he cares about tourism these days, as well as saving money, which CK says is an arrogant thing to do. You hear that, Jay? Arrogance!
The conversation then turns to inheritance and spoiled rich kids, and how it relates to not only the d-bags you've likely seen on a TV series near you, but also a kingdom in the past. Being a stand-up comedian, however, that's a "heavy responsibility." Especially when Louis reminds Leno about his audience numbers and demographics!
And if you're a 20-year-old who's still able to pay attention to what Louis is saying, then listen to what he has to say about his kids.
Louis CK, still so great. Even when he's clearly doing material, because the way Louis CK does material is so conversational already. And to anyone who is on Team Coco or whatever and wants to be mad at Louis for appearing on Leno, then you're missing the point. Team Coco's fans already love Louis CK. To expand his reach and obtain new fans, it's important for the rest of America to hear what Louis CK has to say, which means the 1 million -- or 5.5 million, as Leno says! -- tuning into the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It's also a win for Jay, because Louis so doesn't care (he even wrote about how little he cared about the fight over what's left of "The Tonight Show") that he can laugh off Leno's chat-show segues and make Leno feel like a guy you can talk to. Not that that's the point right now. Point is, if you read this site, you're likely already a fan of Louis CK. If you're a newcomer, strap in and get used to reading more about great comedy.
Rose grilled him for much of the 40 minutes (link to video here), asking him again and again about how he failed with NBC Entertainment, and even though Zucker has described his decisions about Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien with Zucker before, they went through it all again. Why??? That's not me asking. That was Rose.
There's some initial discussion about the transition for Comcast to take over NBC Universal and the future of media, Zucker's start in news as a producer on Today, and then after some talk about the difference between being a news guy vs. an entertainment guy -- and whether New York City and Hollywood are on the same page, Rose gets back to Jay vs. Conan. From the transcript:
CHARLIE ROSE: Here is what is interesting about Bill Carter’s book, though, is that you had, speaking of gut, you had a feeling that it was not going to work at 11:30 for Conan according to Bill Carter and reflected that. And when you saw it on the air, it confirmed your feeling. And when you saw the bookings, it doubled your anxiety. JEFF ZUCKER: Look, look. CHARLIE ROSE: Look, what, is this what -- JEFF ZUCKER: You know, I think, I think that -- I think Conan is incredibly talented. I really do. I think that in the end everybody has probably ended up where they should be. It turns out Jay is a broader, delivers a broader audience, and I think Conan delivers a very targeted audience that wasn’t what we needed at 11:30 on NBC. CHARLIE ROSE: Looking at it now, you don’t think that Conan really was the right profile, forgetting Jay, for 11:30 on NBC. JEFF ZUCKER: I think it turns out he was more narrow than we needed. CHARLIE ROSE: Narrow in what means? JEFF ZUCKER: In terms of his appeal to a broader audience. CHARLIE ROSE: Narrow in what he did, the nature of his comedy? JEFF ZUCKER: All of the above, all of that. And look, he’s incredibly talented. And I think he’s actually reaching a perfect audience where he is. But at NBC at 11:30 you need to be, you need to reach more than just men 18 to 34. And you need to reach as many people as possible. And I think, you know, in hindsight that is something that we realized after the fact.
"So we're off that topic now?" Zucker joked a little while later.
Zucker later acknowledged that knowing Conan for 30 years -- going back to their days as fellow Harvard undergrads -- makes him regret that their friendship is not what it once was. Zucker also tells Rose that several years ago, he tried to lure Jon Stewart away from Comedy Central and strip his version of The Daily Show five nights a week at 8 p.m. (or even 7 p.m.)!
By the way, when you look away from the screen, a realization hits that Zucker sounds more than a little bit like Bob Costas. Wonder if he has ever done voiceover pretending to be Costas. Conspiracy theory?
There's parallel thinking, and then there's the time a TV show asks you for permission to use your work, and then does so without credit. That's apparently what happened last night to VH1 bloggers Rich Juzwiak and Kate Spencer, no thanks to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In a post titled, "Jay Leno ripped me off" on his own popular personal blog, FourFour, Juzwiak recounts what happened.
Here is the video from VH1's The Fab Life, posted on Nov. 16, 2010:
And this is Jay Leno telling Taylor Swift last night what "we" "put together" for her:
After the show ended, and Juzwiak didn't see his or Spencer's name in the credits, he wrote:
What surprised me the most wasn't so much that Kate and I weren't mentioned, but that the video wasn't credited as having originated on the Internet. This is not an obscure work -- it's racked up over 200,000 views in a week! I thought at the very least, he'd give and indication of this thing's preexistence so that his viewers could hunt it down if they were so inclined. That was, apparently, expecting too much.
This post is to reclaim due credit -- that is one very tangible function of this blog that I appreciate very much. As with my NPR/cell-phone supercut feud, I am grateful that I don't have to stand by and watch when someone's going to be so rude as to swipe something I worked on just because it was made for the Internet. Newsflash to the mainstream media: just like you have actual human beings making you work, so does the Internet! A little respect for the people providing your content would be nice! I understand that ownership is a dubious concept these days, and that I'm claiming ownership of a series of clips that I never owned in the first place, but an idea is an idea. They're so hard to come by and so, so valuable.
I know how you feel, Rich. All of us plugging away on the Internet have got your back on this one.
With Jay Leno "enjoying" his worst Tonight Show ratings in years, and also getting shut out on the Emmy nominations while Conan O'Brien -- who had to submit on his own behalf since NBC was no longer behind him -- earned four nods, Leno tried to be self-deprecating about it in his monologue tonight.
And yet. And. Yet. Leno tried dragging Letterman into his situation, saying Dave also got no nominations, when his CBS Late Show in fact got two Emmy nominations this year for directing and overall technical camerawork (just not in the big overall and writing categories). Leno was fortunate, at least, to have Emmy nominees Steve Carell and Jane Lynch both booked on the program, and this clip highlight includes both of them as well. Roll the clip montage:
When you have a very big, high-profile gig coming up, you want to practice your routines and hone them so they'll really pop when it's showtime. You'll likely want to show off your best new material, or the best of your old stuff. That's how most stand-up comedians prepare for a TV set.
Not Jay Leno. Leno famously still continues to perform stand-up in addition to his Tonight Show duties. So what to make of the news that Politico dug up -- apparently either a slow day in politics or because they're on Team Coco -- finding out that Leno barely brought anything new or special to the dais as the paid headliner for the White House Correspondents Dinner. Sure, Leno got upstaged by President Barack Obama, whom we learned hired writers from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to craft custom zingers for him. But to see that Leno didn't even put the same amount of professional delivery into his old Tonight Show monologue jokes the second time around? That's just embarrassing. But is it scandalous? Watching Leno look down and have such a difficult time reading jokes he already had delivered, it looks more pathetic than anything else. It's like he didn't even try. He had the president, the nation's press corps and A-list celebrities all with their eyes on him. And he just went through the motions. Sad. Roll the clip.
This week at The Comic's Comic HQ has been quite a blur, dealing with post-festival fatigue and coming down with a fever, so we're playing catch-up yet again. Here's something I apparently missed from Monday night -- Dr. Phil showed up as a guest on Late Show with David Letterman and asked him how he was coping with all of the "late-night wars."
Of course, Letterman has loved it, continues to love it and isn't afraid to say so, complete with mocking impersonations of Jay Leno. Letterman first says what some of us have long held, that Leno's attempt to frame himself as "getting screwed" or "cancelled" aren't exactly truthful, then reminds everyone that his relationship with Leno dates back 35 years to 1975. Notice how Letterman is quick to say that Leno was the funniest guy in the room back then, but also had an offstage personality that explains what has made Letterman's blood boil since the earlier Tonight Show shuffle of 1992-1993. Roll the clip.
When I saw Michael Kosta in Aspen three years ago, he helped redefine the way I look at high-schoolers. Kosta also had this recurring callback wherein he high-fives the crowd. Last night he performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and the high-five is more like a mid-five now. The faux-cockiness is still there, though. And a prop! Even Kosta realized during this performance that some TV audiences can be a little hotter than they should be, granting applause breaks sometimes where you don't expect them to come. Roll the clip!
Someone used their hot tub time machine over the weekend to bring this TV highlight out of hiding. Five years ago, Chris Rock warned Conan O'Brien that if he made Jay Leno angry, Leno would stick around for another 20 years on The Tonight Show. Comedians knew what was coming. Just like Artie Lange predicted in 2008 and Norm MacDonald predicted in 2009. Roll the clip!
So Joy Behar was on The Tonight Show, Jay Leno edition, don't call it a comeback. But the real dishy dish happened backstage beforehand, as Behar and her HLN (that's KFC speak for Headline News) people filmed an impromptu chat with Leno. And he was quick to answer the inevitable Conan and Kimmel questions. Yes, Leno said NBC screwed Conan over. But he also claims he was screwed over, which is still slightly hard to swallow, but not as hard as the moment in which he says a comedian should never "impede on someone else's opportunity." Watch the whole thing, including some other filler with Behar, at your leisure.
On tonight's Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel sat down with David Letterman as they reminisced about roasting Jay Leno over the comedy coals. Just when you thought you had forgotten all about the "late night wars" of 2010...roll the clip!
Sarah Palin, the woman who almost could have been vice president, and certainly was the governor of Alaska before she quit to be famous full-time, decided she wanted to be a stand-up comedian last night on the TV. And since she was a guest on Jay Leno's second show back as host of The Tonight Show, this dream was entirely attainable. The one thing I still cannot figure out is why Palin wanted to do this. Certainly she had a favorable audience, who clapped unprovoked earlier in the hour when Jay Leno even mentioned the anti-government "Tea Party" movement. But what does any of this or that have to do with Palin getting a second introduction onstage to stand up and tell straightforward political jokes? I have not a clue right now.
But if you'd like to watch the end of Leno's interview with Palin, which segues into her "stand-up comedy," then here is that clip! If you have access to Hulu, this same clip of Palin and Leno is available for viewing here.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno made its "triumphant" "return" last night with a cold open that included John Melendez -- whom most reporters and bloggers still call Stuttering John and think that he was only just now fired as the announcer, even though he didn't have that task on the failed 10 p.m. show, either -- and, of course, Betty White (because Facebook fans demanded she appear on NBC late-night programming, just not this show). And if you think that run-on sentence is going to be an issue, then you don't even want me to get into the actual program, which included a monologue dusted off from the attic -- Alan Greenspan? He retired in January 2006. President Bush? He hasn't been president since January 2009. I know facts -- and a clearly manic Jamie Foxx. It was horrible. But plenty of us sat through it, just because we had to.
Landline TV figured that must be the case for every Leno audience, as they outline in their latest video. I don't buy it, personally. I think Leno's audience is made up of Hollywood tourists who think Burbank is even more glamorous than Hollywood. That drive up through the hills in the rental car might confuse them. And Leno is a famous person. Just think how exciting that must be to see a famous person in real life? I know what I'm talking about. Sort of. Roll the clip!
You don't have to be on Team Coco to realize that Leno-bashing has reached a hyperbolic pitch. Just pick up the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, which put a photo illustration of Jay Leno on its cover and named him TV's biggest bomb ever. Ever? Forever ever? Clearly the mag went with the chin to win in an effort to move print copies, because if you look at their top 50 TV bombs list, several of them stand out as much worse things to have appeared on America's television sets. It's not as if Leno is Hitler, as the Wall Street Journal's Joe Queenan suggested in a crass satire yesterday designed to generate page views. They're both wrong, of course, because Leno has never wanted anything more than to hold onto his 11:35 p.m. (10:35 p.m. Central/Mountain) time slot, and he'll be getting it back soon enough.
But how did it come to this, where conventional wisdom and anyone who's funny clearly aligned against Jay Leno? He cannot really be that bad, can he? And if he were, why do all of those people still show up at tapings of The Jay Leno Show and rush up to shake his hand at the start of every show? For the latter question, I think the answer is one part tourists on a Los Angeles vacation who are just happy to be up close and personal with a very famous person, and one part Leno providing the same below-the-belt jokes about sex and stereotypes that has earned Jeff Dunham millions of fans. Leno has said that in terms of personal appearances and stand-up gigs, he's doing better than ever. Before I digress even more, let's get back to Leno.
When I watched him sit down with Emily Blunt at the start of last week's run, Leno seemed to enjoy a natural and genuine conversation with the actress. For a moment, I almost did not want to shake my fists at him. What has become of me? How did it get to this? I used to like Jay Leno -- he was the first headlining stand-up comedian I remember seeing live, when he performed in a packed gymnasium at my college. My parents used to live in, and my mother still works in Andover, Mass., Leno's hometown. Where did my goodwill for him go?
Jay Leno brought this upon himself, I thought. No. I knew. He said that night that he still has no manager, no agent, no publicist, but he desperately needs someone to tell him that he has handled this latest round of NBC late-night disasters so so poorly. For one thing. For the main thing, really: Jay Leno has no idea what it means to be fired from a job. The last time I checked, getting fired means you no longer work for the company you're working for. When your bosses tell you they're replacing you, but before your contract is over, they give you a promotion, that's not being fired. When the people who control your pursestrings decide you're awful at your next job, and your bosses decide the best option is to give you your old job back, that's also not getting fired. It's like this guy has no self-awareness, or is so self-aware that he's playing a prank on himself. Which is another way of saying, he needs someone to tell him how much of an idiot he is.
NBC Universal honcho Jeff Zucker sat down for an exclusive one-on-one chat with Charlie Rose earlier in the week, and it's now up on Hulu.com along with other clips from Rose's PBS talk show. Of course, we know now that tonight is Conan O'Brien's last night as the ill-fated host of NBC's The Tonight Show, and the demise of The Jay Leno Show in primetime is not far behind, with Leno retaking the helm of Tonight on March 1. We had not heard much, if anything, publicly from Zucker about this.
Rose did not ask Zucker about his very first encounter with O'Brien at Harvard, which did not set the best tone (as Zucker had O'Brien arrested when Conan's Harvard Lampoon stole all of the issues of Zucker's paper, the Crimson, as a prank). No. This was a more sobering half-hour in which Rose reiterated all of the problems NBC has had in late-night -- as well as the network's overall difficulties languishing in last place. If you want to hear Zucker's take, this is your chance. And if you live outside of America and cannot access Hulu, you can watch the half-hour on Charlie Rose's site.
You know that old saying, if it ain't broke, don't fix it? Of course you do. That's why it's an old saying. And if NBC had thought of that in 2004, it wouldn't have found itself doomed to repeat history, which is another unfortunate saying that the network forgot about. Two-fer! Actually Toofer is a 30 Rock character, also on NBC. Anyhow. Where was I?
After confirming that it had wrapped up negotiations to end Conan O'Brien's seven-month stint on The Tonight Show -- for a reported $45 million including fees to cover severance for O'Brien's staff and his executive producer -- NBC put out a press release celebrating the return of Jay Leno to his old time-slot. If that's what getting fired means, sign me up! Conan's last show for NBC is tomorrow, Jan. 22, and he is free to return to TV full-time somewhere else as of Sept. 1, 2010. Leno, meanwhile, returns to his old slot on March 1, following the Winter Olympics coverage, which will pre-empt most everything in primetime and late-night on the NBC networks.
The words in NBC's press release sure sounds like they're putting the best possible spin on cancelling Leno's primetime show -- which affiliates and critics hated -- and giving him back the show they had taken away from him. Can we just pretend the past didn't happen? That's what this sounds like...
"We're pleased that Jay is returning to host the franchise that he helmed brilliantly and successfully for many years," said NBC Universal's Entertainment chief Jeff Gaspin. "He is an enormous talent, a consummate professional and one of the hardest-working performers on television."
That was followed by this paragraph (italics added):
Leno previously hosted "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" from May 1992-May 2009. The program will continue to showcase many of the features that made Leno America's late-night leader for more than a dozen years.
I don't know how long I can keep up with this late-night TV bashing, but word on the TMZ street is it won't last much too much longer. Tonight, David Letterman exposed "Big Jaw" Jay Leno's so-called Middle America values, by reminding us how Leno's power-grab of The Tonight Show, Part 2: Electric Boogaloo, is a lot like that one time Middle America decided to become Middle America by killing all of the Native American tribes and stealing their land. Is this TV's version of Manifest Destiny? Roll the clip:
Related: TMZ posted this photo of workers taking down a Leno billboard on one of the NBC lots.
Another night, another round of jokes about NBC.
In his monologue tonight, Jay Leno ribbed NBC as "America's most dysfunctional TV family" and noted that while Conan O'Brien only got seven months to make his show work, Leno only got four months. "I'll take his agent!" Leno quipped. Roll the clip.
David Letterman, meanwhile, regaled his audience tonight with tales of back when he was on the Peacock Network. Remember how he used to poke fun at management often when he was in the Late Night slot? Well, he reminds us all about some of the "pinheads" and "nitwits" and "mouth-breathers" who tried to douse the fun, even when Letterman was trying to have a prime-time anniversary special and party. Letterman joked about visiting Jimmy Fallon last week, and thought more about Carson Daly, because Dave is looking out for the kids, right? In his mind, every kid who wants a show should be able to get a show, right? Roll it.