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Friday, 16 of April of 2021

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno – The Revenge of the Jay

“I’m your host Jay Leno. At least for a while!”

Nick totally guilted me into writing about this. I compromised with myself, and did only the first 30 minutes of the show because staying up for Jamie Foxx just wasn’t an option.

So Jay’s second term as host of The Tonight Show (or is this episode 3,776 or volume 2 episode 1? I don’t even know) kicks off with a Wizard of Oz skit wherein Jay wakes up from the nightmare of having hosted another show at 10pm in a sepia-tinted world. He does the whole “You were there!” thing with Eubanks and the pudgy homosexual intern whose name I can’t remember and don’t really care enough to look up, but takes a jab at his announcer who didn’t go to The Jay Leno Show with him.

And then, probably in an effort to save the skit from being totally inane, Betty White shows up, commenting that NBC must’ve really cut his budget. I’m on the Betty White bandwagon as much as the next person who really hasn’t seen a Golden Girls episode in years, didn’t watch The Proposal but does love her work on Boston Legal, but subjecting her to embarrassment of being in that skit just isn’t kosher. She deserves better. (And so do we.)

So, while the theme song is running, I quickly make a checklist of the standard jokes Leno deploys. I’ve got a Wall Street joke, a California legislature joke, an airplane joke, a Dick Cheney joke, a George W. Bush joke, and a Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky joke. Jay hits on all of them except for the Clinton/Lewinsky joke, but I’m going to claim “Yahtzee!” by proxy due to the Tiger Woods joke.

The jokes are the same bland and boring they’ve always been, which is unfortunate, because I assume that the “How Boring is Alan Greenspan?” video was of Greenspan watching a tape of The Jay Leno Show, which is why he was falling asleep. The California legislature joke, about a week-long ban on cussing in the state, could’ve become a thing through the week, but Jay only refers to them as bastards, which doesn’t even get bleeped, taking any and all bite out of the joke. Not that Jay’s jokes are supposed to bite; they just gum at the funny.

The monologue wraps up with another video. Why they went with this video, I have no idea, but it’s “The World’s Tightest Pants.” This involves a camera fixated on a woman’s ass, moving and zooming to get the ass in all its supposed glory. The clip was painful to watch, and typing about it caused Google Chrome to crash just now. The clip is frustrating because Conan O’Brien is often accused of being juvenile or sophomoric in his humor, but his humor often goes unacknowledged as the smartest kid in the class sort of way (much of the time) wrapped in a sophomoric bow.

Leno, on the other hand, aims for bland but respectable. There’s little respectable about the joke. Honestly, it’s probably below the bar for what appears on Tosh.0, the Comedy Central on-line video version of The Soup. But will anyone call Jay for the lameness of this bit? Probably critics, but his audience won’t care.

While I expected him to do Headlines, the normal Monday bit,  he does “Jay Looks for a New Desk!” instead. In this bit, Jay visits random houses to test out their desks, to see which would work best for him. He also brings along guests, like Randy Jackson, a big spider, and then that big spider dressed as Adam Carolla. For the sake of “humor,” insults one mother for feeding her kids KFC (Maybe she didn’t feel like cooking, Jay! Does Mavis always feel like cooking?) and then allows Carolla to knock on a Peruvian desk, suggesting it’s carrying diseases. The bit made me long for Jaywalking, a man-on-the-street bit that I no longer find funny, and that people continue to find it funny is depressing.

Jay unveils his new desk, an overproduced thing, commenting to Eubanks that he never thought he would miss a desk so much until it was gone. I’m so many of us are saying exactly the same thing about Conan.


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