on jay leno leaving the tonight show
Okay, so Jay Leno is leaving The Tonight Show. He did his teary farewell and so on.
Here's the thing, though...
I never thought Jay was a good host for the program.
Nobody remembers that the transition from Johnny to Jay was a bad one. It took a LONG time for people to get used to Jay, and some never did. Dave Letterman should have got the center seat for Tonight, but for one reason or another he was screwed right out of it, and Jay got it instead.
Jay is not funny. He was never funny. The man simply cannot deliver a punch line correctly and never could.
Now if you want to know a guy who is genuinely funny, as in laugh-out-loud funny and is arguably the best late show host right now, that would be CBS's The Late Late Show's Craig Ferguson. That guy knows how to tell a joke and deliver it.
I can honestly say that if Craig got Dave Letterman's job on The Late Show after he retires, he will destroy if not obliterate Jimmy Fallon on Tonight because he's just a much better host.
Craig in action. Note how he tore up the question card and winged it, SUCCESSFULLY:
I would go see Craig over Jimmy any day of the week and twice on Sunday. He gets a crowd going, keeps up the pace and can improv easily without the cards. Note the delivery. Note the timing. The man simply knows how to do it right.
Granted, it's a totally different style than Johnny's was, but it's in the vibe of what a late night talk show is supposed to be - entertaining.
But anyway, back to Jay.
The only thing that made Leno better than Letterman is the fact Leno is a nicer person. It's well known that Dave has been wanting to quit his show for years, and I honestly don't know why he still does it. There have been countless Late Show airings where you can tell that Dave just simply does not want to be there. But you never got that vibe from Leno.
Leno, as crappy of a comedian as he is, at least was genuinely energetic and didn't look annoyed to be doing Tonight. That show is, after all, the standard for what a late night talk show is supposed to be.
Jay was totally correct in saying that Tonight is run correctly by highly-trained people who truly know what they're doing. Everyone who works on Tonight counts, from the guy who gets the donuts all the way to Jay himself.
Jay's way of doing Tonight was mildly entertaining, but consistent. Like I said, it took a long time for America to warm up to Jay. But once they did, they accepted his style, lumps and all.
As for Jay's replacement, one can only hope Fallon doesn't have the same problem O'Brien did.
And yeah, I gotta talk about O'Brien for a second.
Conan was simply not suited for the center seat and never was. That chair was too big for him to sit in. When he was doing Late Night, he was really good at it because that show allowed a lot more freedom to do crazy stuff. That, and the New York environment suited him well, New York liked him, and it showed. But on Tonight, he just didn't fit. There's a certain decorum to Tonight, and that combined with "NBC California rules" just didn't work for his style. With his own show on TBS however (also in California), he has a lot more freedom to do whatever he wants.
Speaking of location, Tonight is moving back to New York for the first time since 1972. That is the proper move for the show. Fallon knows New York, and New York knows him, so it should work out fairly well. Hopefully.
Will Fallon be a proper replacement? Unknown at this point. He is funnier than Jay, but not funnier than Craig.
On a final note about Jay, I didn't like him as a comedian and I thought his delivery was awful. But he was always a class act, and nobody can take that away from him. He kept Tonight rolling as long as he could and held the center seat properly. Hosting that show is a big job, and Jay knew how to handle it.
As for Fallon, time will tell if Jimmy can wear the big shoes on Tonight or not.