The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

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NBC (ended 2014)

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The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
8.0
out of 10
User Rating
1,717 votes
77

SHOW REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Show Summary

Jay Leno follows in the footsteps of legendary NBC late-night hosts Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson. Leno has created his own unique late-night style with a combination of humor, talk and entertainment each night at 11:35 p.m. ET - the wee hours when viewers want to wind down with a few laughs before drifting off to dreamland. Considered by many to be a "variety" show, "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" features a nightly monologue and news-making guests, as well as ongoing comedy segments including "Headlines," "Tonight Show Side Show," "Jaywalking," and "Battle of Jaywalking All-Stars." The result is a unique look at today's pop culture. Honored for Emmy Awards in 1995 and 1996, "The Tonight Show" was also voted by readers of "TV Guide" readers as 'Favorite Late Night Show' in 1999 and 2000. Other notable achievements include: Leno's exclusive interview with Senator John Glenn and the astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery; a pay-per-view wrestling match between Leno and Hulk Hogan; "The Tonight Show Unplugged" in response to California's recent power crisis; a sum of $360,200 raised for The Twin Towers Fund from auctioning Leno's celebrity-signed motorcycle; and a special 2001 Thanksgiving show broadcast live on Armed Forces Radio and Television Services to entertain U.S. military personnel worldwide. In addition, the program continued to make history in April 1999 when it became the first television series to be broadcast nightly in HDTV (high-definition television). The program has also proven to be a barometer of political clout. In 2000, the "Los Angeles Times" noted that "The road to the White House apparently leads through Burbank," as each presidential candidate -- Al Gore, George W. Bush, Bill Bradley and John McCain – appeared to demonstrate their relaxed, good-humored side during the presidential elections. Many of the world's most popular celebrities, musical guests and newsworthy names have recently appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" including: Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Denzel Washington, Nicole Kidman, Billy Crystal, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Sharon Stone, supermodel Heidi Klum, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Vice President Dick Cheney, Mrs. Laura Bush, Gwyneth Paltrow, Shaquille O'Neal, Elton John, Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Sheryl Crow, Enrique Iglesias, Mel Gibson, 'N Sync, Jennifer Aniston, Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Hanks and John Travolta. In addition to the star-power, the "Tonight Show" production team searches for the most interesting "civilian" guests such as kid inventors and individuals with quirky talents and funny stories. Guitarist Kevin Eubanks is the show's bandleader. Debbie Vickers is the executive producer. "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" is from Big Dog Productions in association with NBC Studios. The show has its finale in May 29, 2009 before it was taken over by Conan O'Brien for 7 months. After a brief network drama, the show is now returned to Jay Leno, who hosted the Jay Leno Show in primetime for 5 months. Jay hosted his final show on February 6, 2014.

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Jay Leno

Jay Leno

Host

Rickey Minor

Rickey Minor

Band Leader (2010 - present)/Bnad Leader (2010 - present)

Kevin Tyrone Eubanks

Kevin Tyrone Eubanks

Band Leader (1995 - 2010)

John Melendez

John Melendez

Announcer (2004 - 2009)

Edd Hall

Edd Hall

Announcer (1992 - 2004)

Branford Marsalis

Branford Marsalis

Band Leader (1992 - 1994)

Thursday
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Friday
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Saturday
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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The host with the most, but of what?

    4.5
    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
  • Sick of Knocking Obama' S ACA.

    6.0
    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.
  • What the hell

    8.5
    Love this and Jay Leno until all that happened with Conan.
  • Late Night King Reins Supreme

    9.5
    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.
  • The King of Talk Show

    9.3
    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
  • INFALLON-ABLE

    Jimmy Fallon Was Satisfactory in His Tonight Show Debut

    Fallon twerked, kissed ass, and did an entirely okay job on his first day on late-night's biggest stage.

  • END OF AN ERA (AGAIN)

    News Briefs: Jay Leno Said Goodbye to The Tonight Show With His Highest Ratings in 16 Years

    Plus: FX is embarking on a rare hiatus for the Olympics, Sutton Foster has booked a new pilot, and Glinda the Good Witch is visiting Storybrooke,

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    More Info About This Show

    Categories

    Comedy, Talk & Interview

    Themes

    Sketch, celebrity cameos, long running show, Late Night, pop culture observations