My first memory of Jay Leno was The Chin. It happened when I was nine years old, too young for The Tonight Show, but just the right age to recognize The Chin as it was presented on the paperback cover of Leading With My Chin in the grocery store. Not a FANCY book store, but the grocery, which, in retrospect, seems fitting for Leno, who’s since become THE working-class comedian, and already was getting there by the time I put a name to The Chin. My first impression: “The hell is that thing?” Then, “I don’t like this guy.”
There was something about his face, about that sheepish style and shirt that should have concealed his chest more and his mischievously raised eyebrows, that didn’t sit right with me. I didn’t have the words for it then, and I’m not sure I do know, but Jay Leno, from The Chin on up, looked like a guy who would take everything, and give nothing back in return. Your ideas weren’t yours; they were his. He’d just rearrange them a little, make them easier to digest. He was, in other words, a complete and utter phony.
And I’m going to miss that guy.
Tonight is Jay Leno’s final appearance as host of The Tonight Show. His first guests, Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks (perfect), are also his last. Jimmy Fallon takes over on February 17, then all this is behind us:
Given Michigan’s nation-leading 11.6% unemployment rate, Leno’s jokes will be just what the crowd needs to get that final little bit of courage to kill themsleves. (Via)
Man, I cannot wait for Leno to retire and disappear forever. Yes, he is retiring. Don’t try to tell me he isn’t. I said he’s RETIRING AND DISAPPEARING FOREVER. LA LA LA LA LA LA!!! (Via)
Hey, remember that time Jay Leno starred in the White Stripes’ video for “The Denial Twist”? No? That’s because awesome bands don’t do videos with lame-ass late-night tools. (Via)
The world would be a better place if Leno fell into a rusty industrial meat grinder. He’s the only late-night host I can’t stand; everyone else has some redeeming quality. Conan’s a genius; Letterman’s the best interviewer; Kimmel’s a little frat-ty for my taste, but he can be funny; Craig Ferguson is quietly brilliant; and Fallon can be surprisingly quick on his feet. Leno’s just bland. It’s like watching a jar of mayonnaise tell jokes. (Via)
I’m just gonna blame this on Leno. I already blame my drinking problem on him. And I’m pretty sure his fleet of cars is responsible for global warming. Is he responsible for the Holocaust as well? I can’t say for sure… but have you ever noticed how Leno and Hitler are never in the same place? (Via)
All of this is a long way of saying that The Jay Leno Show’s rampant whoring is beyond egregious. The video above — which is all the product placements from a SINGLE SHOW last week — features 10 product mentions in the monologue and a grand total of 26 product placements throughout the show, including an insultingly ad-driven Wendy’s bit, a sponsored Bing.com segment that was used for MORE ad placements, and questions for LeBron James in which he gets asked to name specific companies. That’s about twice the product placement of the usual late-night talk show, and probably more when you take into account how much of Leno’s is deliberate versus incidental. In conclusion, Jay Leno is actually worse than you already thought he was. (Via)
Just to recap: NBC promised The Tonight Show to Conan in 2004, and Leno agreed to step down when the time came. Except when the time came, Leno said he wanted to stay on the air, hence The Jay Leno Show at 10 o’clock, which quickly became one of the greatest programming f*ck-ups in network history. As Leno’s unwatched show was torpedoing viewership of NBC local news and the new Tonight Show, he openly lobbied to get his 11:30 slot back.
Gosh, what an awesome guy. If he’s not too busy during the Olympics, maybe he’d like to come over and get my sister pregnant, wait six months, then punch her in the stomach until she miscarries. (Via)
Jay Leno, who was overshadowed by Barack Obama’s humor and charisma at Saturday night’s White House Correspondents Dinner, used jokes he’d told earlier this spring on The Tonight Show for the black-tie affair. Seriously: he was the keynote speaker at a party hosted by the president of the United States, and he couldn’t be troubled to write new jokes. (Via)
I say this, and I don’t say it lightly: Jay Leno is Satan, or at least made in Satan’s image. Leno is not for people who want to turn their brains off after a long day of work; Leno is for people biologically incapable of turning their brain on. Show me a Leno fan, and I’ll show you incontrovertible proof that there’s no such thing as evolution. (Via)
I reiterate: Jay Leno is f*cking evil. He’s probably drinking a breakfast of puppy blood from a chalice right this second. (Via)
I’m not saying Jay Leno has an obligation to, like, work for free to save his staffers. That’s not fair. He works in a high-profile job in a lucrative industry, and he is entitled to earn a salary relative to his value to his employers. Fine. But he is also a 62-year-old man who presumably has well over $100 million in the bank and will still be stuffing $400,000 per week into his mattress while close to two dozen people who work for him lose their jobs, so let’s not put a halo and wings on the dude, okay? (Via)
A few days later, a caller asked Stern whether he’d heard from NBC executives about his comments. Stern responded OF COURSE…and then went on to say more not-so-nice things about Leno.
A few notable quotes:
1. “F*ck Jay. Take my job away from me. Who cares?”
2. “Jay Leno’s the biggest wuss on the planet. He’s a backstabbing cumbag that I don’t give a sh*t about.”
3. “I’d rather leave [the job] than not talk about Jay Leno.” (Via)
You don’t know about me, but I’m turning 63/Got more prescriptions than colonoscopies. (Via)
That pretty much brings us to…oh wait, one more:
It’s like a greatest hits of suckitude! And that’s what we’re going to miss when he’s gone. David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, Seth Meyers, Carson Daly — we either like these guys, to various degrees, or have no opinion on them whatsoever (so, Daly). I like having Leno around, because Leno’s fun to hate. He’s to late night as the Patriots are to the NFL: we may despise them, but they’re a blast to ridicule, especially when they’re down, and that’s where Leno’s been wallowing, post-Conan debacle. (Though, to be fair, since his Louie appearance, he’s taken baby steps to appearing human, not a comedy Cylon programmed by a guy who thinks Mad Magazine is too edgy.) Leno was everything this website has said about him over the years: bland, boring, desperate, backstabbing, denim. Now that he’s going away, at least for a little bit, there’s going to be a hate hole in my heart that used to be filled by The Chin.
Hating people is fun, no matter how irrational the hatred is. ESPECIALLY if it’s irrational. There’s a comfort to be found in contemptuousness. That’s the worst thing about Leno leaving, how it easy it would be for him to turn into someone like Bob Saget, a funny guy who slummed it on the lowest-common-denominator humor of Full House and America’s Funniest Home Videos before reminding everyone, via The Aristocrats, that holy sh*t, Danny Tanner’s hilarious. Leno used to be a beloved comedian, but once he took the Tonight Show gig, he left his sarcasm and bitterness behind in favor of cars and “did you hear about this?” setups. I don’t want to see a return of the Jay Leno who Patton Oswalt called “one of the best comedians of our generation.”
But Leno doesn’t want to be that guy anymore. He’s happy with mediocrity, and that makes us HATE.
I like hate.