Jay’s Back

Jay Leno is back on The Tonight Show. For those of you who don’t know, Jay Leno was the host of the most popular late night comedy show, ‘The Tonight Show’, from 1992 to 2009. He then handed over the position to fellow comedian Conan O’Brien, who previously hosted an even later night show named ‘The Late Show’. Meanwhile Jay Leno moved on to his own show during the primetime hours.

Jay Leno’s primetime show was inserted by NBC (who employed Leno and O ‘Brien) to replace it’s unpopular television shows. Viewers were not happy that a late night comedian was on air during the primetime, so NBC’s primetime viewership sank. Conan O’Brien could not keep his new show in the #1 position that Leno had held since the 90’s. After just seven months with the new arrangement, NBC wanted to push Jay Leno’s show out of the primetime in order to make it popular again. But this meant that The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien had to start after midnight, which would surely spell disaster for the show. Conan O’Brien stated that he would leave the show if it were relocated to a new time slot. A rift began between NBC, Leno and O’Brien. Eventually Leno became the winner, since breaking his contract would cost NBC much more than breaking O’Brien’s contract.

The Tonight Show returned to Jay Leno after a break of one month (during the Winter Olympic season), and Conan O’Brien has left NBC. The last episodes with Conan were probably his best, as he had nothing left to lose, and there was plenty of media attention to draw viewers. It seemed to become a common belief that Leno was the dirty guy in the incident (apart from NBC), and the internet was full of people claiming that they would never watch Leno’s shows again. Of course, the internet belongs to whoever shouts the most, of we can’t really conclude much from that. But Conan O’Brien escaped with a payment of US$ 45 million, and he is allowed to join another network after September 2010.

Jay Leno’s new Tonight Show began yesterday. It was a blessing for Leno fans in Sri Lanka and India (there are many), because Jay Leno’s primetime show was not broadcasted on Zee Cafe. I do not know how these viewers felt about Conan O’Brien, but I know that I prefered Jay Leno. Leno began his new show by stating that he was “the host [of the Tonight Show], at least for a while”. The first episode was funny and interesting and almost original Leno. However there was a O’Brien-type dumb feature about very tight pants, which seemed out of place in Leno’s more mature show.

I didn’t like Conan O’Brien’s show much. His monologue was not as entertaining after having heard Leno for ages. Conan was also not too comfortable with his show, and he took a while to move between topics in his monologue. But eventaully Conan warmed up to his new show and I warmed up to his monologue. But there were parts of the show which were pretty babish and immature, including one about a masturbating bear (which were edited off the Zee Cafe broadcast). It was often said that the O’Brien version of the Tonight Show was more suited for the younger adults, so that gives me a bad impression of the American youth. But impressions aside, Conan was never able to hold strong again the competition, especially David Letterman who immediately swooped up Leno’s older viewership.

But I’m happy that Leno is back, so I’m not complaining. Die hard Conan (or Coco) fans will kill themselves until Jay is punished for taking back the show. I don’t know who is at fault here, but this is show business, so what do you expect? Personally I find it hard to believe that some Americans are more worried about a comedy show host than other, more bigger, problems.


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