An open letter to Jay Leno

Dear Jay,

When Johnny Carson retired (or was he forced out), I was rooting for you to be named his successor as host of the Tonight Show. Back then, you had an edge — a point of view — to your comedy. Then you got the assignment to sit behind Johnny’s desk and you decided you wanted to appeal to everyone with the lowest common humor denominator. I suppose it didn’t help that Bill Clinton soon became president and you had countless blow job jokes handed to you on a platter.

Around the time of your 1000th blue-dress, DNA joke, I stopped watching the Tonight Show. I was never a big fan of Letterman, so I basically gave up on late night comedy. When NBC gave you your own prime-time show at 10:00 p.m. EVERY NIGHT of the week, I realized that the network was basically hoisting the white flag. They were essentially saying that they knew they could no longer create watchable television, so why bother trying? And they moved Conan O’Brien into your spot on the Tonight Show. I mean, really, how stupid do you have to be to be an executive at NBC? Conan O’Brien has all the charm of a telemarketer, so I didn’t see this is a step up for the once legendary Tonight Show franchise.

But I digress.

The point I want to make, Jay, is that you have now become a punch line, and when that happens to a comedian it is time for a re-evaluation. My advice to you is to decline NBC’s offer to move back to your old time slot at 11:35. Do something that looks gracious for once. Get out of the spotlight, then re-invent yourself. Perhaps you can take over Simon Cowell’s spot on American Idol.

I’m not giving this advice because I want to see Conan O’Brien stick around. In fact, I hope that O’Brien leaves NBC too and the network actually hires someone smart and funny to sit in the chair once occupied by Carson, Parr and Allen. Maybe Peter Sagal from the NPR show Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

But that shouldn’t be your concern. Just get out of sight for a while, Jay. Go away. Hide. Be gone. You are now a joke. Let’s just make you a bad memory for a while.


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