The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Show Reviews (77)

Great
1,717 votes
8.0
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  • 4.5

    The host with the most, but of what?

    By HelloStuart, Jan 23, 2014

    2009, like 1993 before it, will go down as a transitional and somewhat tumultuous year in late night television. In late February, Conan O'Brien stepped down as host of Late Night and passed the reins to doe-eyed talk show neophyte Jimmy Fallon, and three months later Jay Leno left the Tonight Show to make way for Conan. This domino effect spills over into prime time, where Leno will launch a new-but-more-or-less-the-same one-hour chatfest in September. This was not something that happened overnight, but rather a heavily orchestrated event strategized by the executives of NBC. Apparently, when you've been the #4 network for five years running, you're not as afraid to throw crap at a wall and see what sticks. Leno's new show is a rare attempt at prime-time block programming, a do-or-die move that The Peacock hopes will turn around their fortunes as well as retain one of the network's longtime cash-cows. Nonetheless, is Jay Leno all that he's cracked up to be?



    With all due apologies to his fans, I must nitpick Leno's apparent status as a living legend. A proven TV star and a team player, yes, though far from a legend. First of all, he wasn't an innovator like David Letterman, nor does he have a distinctive style like Conan O'Brien. Jay borrowed heavily from Steve Allen's ringmaster approach to hosting TTS, with a dashes of Rodney Dangerfield and Johnny Carson thrown in for good measure. Secondly, Leno catered heavily toward middle America and let his pandering chip away at his comedic credibility in the process. I fully understand that Wade the Nebraskan pig farmer could use a good laugh just as much as the average college graduate, yet Leno's paltry turnout at the Emmy Awards speaks levels of his reluctance to get creative. Compared to Letterman, Leno's audience skews toward the 50-plus, the lily-white, and the bourgeoisie. At his worst, Leno is as flavorful as vanilla and as hip as prune juice. There's no question that Jay is a nice guy, nor do I doubt that he has a large circle of friends and well-wishers, but some of his recent accolades are over the top.



    I don't feel that there's any need to elaborate on Leno's so-so (and often patronizing) interviewing skills, so I'll focus on the comedy. "Jaywalking," Leno's self-appointed signature bit, was little more than an excuse for twenty-something California hipsters to deliberately flub simple questions, fully knowing that Jay was interrogating them and they could nab their 15 minutes of fame. "Headlines," arguably his second-most beloved comedy segment, is a thinly-veiled variation on "Small Town News," a bit that David Letterman created on Late Night in the '80s and revived 20+ years later.



    Although both of those bits had their moments, I grind my axe at his nightly monologue. Sure, the opening remarks are a hoary old prerequisite for any talk show host worth their salt, but Leno's might be the most egregiously banal. For 17 years, the Leno Jokebot 3000 has spat out one obvious joke after another, aimed squarely at a select list of targets: Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Dr. Jack Kervorkian, Michael Jackson, and George W. Bush. Kevin Eubanks, Leno's doting bandleader since the mid-90s, guffaws the loudest and hardest at these inoffensive one-liners, almost as if his paycheck depends upon it. In short, Leno's monologue has always been a curious sight to behold, intermittently entertaining yet drenched in obsequiousness.



    This brings me to my final point: did NBC make a mistake in selecting Leno over Letterman to replace Johnny Carson? The short answer is yes and no. While The Peacock would certainly have a few more Emmys on their shelves, Dave's latent irreverance and my-way-or-the-highway approach would've clashed with potential advertisers (not a total exaggeration). Leno was the safe choice, a guy who could bend over backwards for the network higher-ups and put on a show without being a prima-donna. Letterman may be your TV pal; however, Leno is your goofy uncle, the clean-cut Working Joe, the guy that cracks wise in the church parking lot, the everyman that you can't help but like and admire. Jay Leno is a creation of middle America, and if it works for them, I guess I can't bewail that.moreless

    14 5

  • 6.0

    Sick of Knocking Obama' S ACA.

    By Gaililly, Nov 04, 2013

    Hey Leno give it a rest. You done it so much last week that they dedicated a page on fb about you knocking the president's ACA. Enough is enough. Every new program has its glitches just like GW Bush's Medicare part D did, You are not helping the president, in fact you are ONLY MAKING IT WORSE. GIVE IT A DAM REST.

    0 1

  • 8.5

    What the hell

    By gracielove, Nov 10, 2012

    Love this and Jay Leno until all that happened with Conan.

    1 0

  • 9.5

    Late Night King Reins Supreme

    By NathanForeste, Apr 21, 2012

    I've always been a secret fan of Jay but unfortunately I never get to see his show due to the fact we don't get NBC in New Zealand, which is unfortunate because we should be able to watch it on here.



    He's funny and quite a down-to-earth guy, true he's no Carson but he's pretty damn close if you ask me.

    2 1

  • 9.3

    The King of Talk Show

    By Shinigami124, Mar 09, 2012

    Jay Leno is and always will be the man! i mean seriously he knows how to be funny. The thing Jay Leno has that every other talk show host doesn't have is timing. Jay Leno often pauses slightly in between his jokes so that the auidence and the viewers get the full effects. Jay Leno always nails the timing perfectly. Jay Leno also really knows how to play off his guests making them tell funny stories and adding comments to get the full effect. I think Jay Leno is awesome and i love how he makes fun of how old Mccain is.moreless

    5 5

  • 1.0

    Leno is the only joke on the tonight show

    By dochouse96, Feb 16, 2012

    if you have a brain injury or have no sense of humor or just the sense of humor of someone in their 70s then this is the show for you. Retire Leno you've done enough damage

    2 1

  • 10

    We are all going to see John Caparulo

    By rocmaven, Feb 14, 2012

    John Caparulo is playing watseka theatre watseka illinois on st patricks day saturday march 17, 2012. Cap is sooooooo funny. Are you going too...

    2 1

  • 4.0

    Jay Leno - Vacationer in Chief.

    By rbgolfing1, Jan 25, 2012

    I thought Johnny took a lot of vacations. Jay is the chief. At least Johnny would have a sub. Having old shows as a substitute is ridiculous. Dumb jokes that are dated just do not work.

    As much as I can not take Letterman, it is better than jokes that are no longer relevant.

    1 0

  • 8.1

    Jay Leno is the comic Everyman. Funny, witty, and playful and never mean. Jay Leno is a class act.

    By scotchex2, Feb 14, 2011

    Jay Leno is the Everyman. Remarkable, considering how fantastically wealthy he has become. Despite his wealth and fame, Leno has managed to retain the persona of the wry, smirking Everyman.



    I have to admit, when I was a teenager I preferred Letterman's more biting sarcasm. But as I grew into adulthood I found I preferred Leno's more gentle and good-natured humor. I think Letterman also became a good bit meaner, and at times nasty, over the years, but it's hard to tell.



    For whatever reason, I feel Leno's humor has held up better over the years. He's clever and witty without being mean and dirty. Leno clearly likes people. He likes Americans, with all of our faults and all of our silly insecurities. Leno is always laughing with us and not at us.



    Leno is not a cutting edge comedian. He's not leveling withering sarcasm at America. Rather, he's a comfortable presence and delivers, day-in and day-out, good-natured ribbing of America and our imperfections. There's always a caring twinkle in Leno's eye,and that's why he's been welcome in America's family rooms for so long.moreless

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