« Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story | Main | What if they gave an awards ceremony and no one came? »

January 03, 2008


Mr. Hollywood

To put it bluntly, Jay is awful. After all these years of doing the show, he has not improved one bit. He is stiff as hell, can't interview anyone worth a damn, his sketch work is pathetic and his monologue belongs at some small time comedy club. Letterman is a pro, a great adlibber, does an intelligent interview and his sketch work is iownderful (Remember "Dave & Steve's Gay Vacation" with Steve Martin?) Why people continue to watch Leno is beyond me. Maybe the answer is to put Carson Shows back on. Still one of the all time class acts in entertainment history.


Leno's ratings are better because people like fluff and stupidity.For 26 years, Letterman has had a following among hipsters and cool people, like Carson did. When his show is good, it's great. Funny and dry and dark all at the same time. He is Carson's rightful heir to the late night throne.Leno's show is like watching "Entertainment Tonight" with a live audience and band. He attracts the "Dancing With The Stars" crowd. My grandparents, who are now dead, watched him every night.

D. McEwan

"Leno's ratings are better because people like fluff and stupidity."Right on the nose, Sparky.I'd say I'm just watching Letterman for the duration, but I've been just watching Letterman for many, many years, except when Leno has Dame Edna on, and as Barry Humphries is recovering from emergency apppendix surgery this past Sunday in Sydney, he won't be on the show anytime soon. I watched a bit of Conan to see how he was filling time. Very poorly was the answer.I see Howie Mandell is crossing the line to Leno tonight. And his excuse is?


I think it's too soon to write off Letterman's rating potential in this strike. I think a lot of people watched Leno to see how he could handle a show off the cuff, but that curiosity will wear off. An extemporaneous Leno combined with a lack of big name guests could well put the Tonight Show in trouble a month from now.


I watched both shows for the first time in a long time because I was curious to see how they would handle their first night back.To me if you didn't know there was WGA strike you wouldn't have been able to tell from Leno's monologue. If you like his humor then it would have fit in well with any of his past shows. I was actually surprised how long it went on, you'd think he would want to save some material. I think the fact he still does a ton of stand-up appearances will serve him well during the strike.I'm not sure why there's so much anti-Leno hostility. Sure he's not an edgy hipster, but he works his ass off and is a genuinely nice guy. He was stuck sitting next to me in a green room a few years ago and was very personable, no attitude and patiently took pictures with everyone who asked. My biggest complaint about his monologue was the constant rim shots by the band. It was more annoying than laugh track.Frankly I was more disappointed with Letterman. For someone who has a full compliment of well rested WGA writers I thought his monologue was really weak and found his constant mugging for the camera lazy and pretentious.On the plus side I thought Robin Williams was in good form (maybe because I haven't seen him or any of his movies for a long time) and made the show worth watching.For me the only pleasant surprise in late night in the past 10 years has been Kimmel. Sure, not all of his stuff works, I hate the Cousin Sal bits for example, but at least he brings a different vibe to the genre and I like his understated humor. His "Week in Unnecessary Censorship" is funny and original. (Or at least it was when he had writers)


being in Australia i couldnt care about who won the ratings... personally i cant stand jay, but i i guess i hate at least half the comedy that you guys love so i probably just dont get it.. it doesnt matter that dave has split the union or what not, at least he thinks they are worth it... Jay isnt any better (actually worse) the vince vaughan, who you so appreciated when he said he would feel fine punching up scripts during the strike... i dont know how he can justify it at all...


I still don't quite understand all the deals about how these shows are on the air; and being in the uk I can't really watch them. (other then the odd clip on you tube.)Having said that, I often read this late night jokes page and based only on those written words I laugh a lot more at Leno's stuff then any of the others.


the best thing about Leno is that if you didn't understand the joke (which is really an indictment of your intellect, and almost impossible) he'll explain it to you for the next 2 minutes. He is terrible. Unwatchable. The most obvious jokes imaginable, but still explained to you. Wow.


How is it that the daytime soaps are still shooting? Are those writers non-union?


My understanding is that Letterman didn't get a waiver, but, that his independent production company "Worldwide Pants" actually signed a new contract with WGA agreeing to all the terms.This is a big deal. WGA said it was willing to make deals one on one with producers and independent companies, and Letterman shows real chutzpah by being the first to make the deal.Leno would have made a deal too, except he doesn't produce or own his show. His is an employee of NBC, and any deal would have to be made with NBC/Universal.Let's hope that as time goes on, more indies will make the deal. Until then, everyone needs to hang together, or as Ben Franklin said,"we shall most certainly hang separetely."Power to the Pencil!

Doktor Frank Doe

Actually Leno has pulled it off, if he's writing his own material, he's doing a pretty good job with it and he and Kevin are improvising their truly good natures and it's beginning to look a lot like big points for Tonight, good for Jay! I just hope he's not doing to the detriment of the WGA.As for jury duty, a lot smarter people than me have expressed the clear desire that given a choice between Jury duty and a two hour session with a fat-fingered Proctologist with advanced Parkinsons, they hope there's at least current magazines in the waiting room.


You can't tell after just one day. On the first day everyone just returns to whatever show they used to watch. The interesting part is whether people will switch over the next week or two.


Not convinced Leno is not using writers on the slyNBC had much to lose in this standoff, and dirty tactics come out when much is at stake.Look at how NBC is claiming the WGA allowed Leno a free pass on writing the monologue (yeah, right) and then said guild rules permit Leno to write his monologue (untrue)


For me, it wasn't all about seeing how well they'd do so much as being tired of the reruns.Having said that, watching the new shows I found myself tuned into Leno longer, possibly due to Dave's beard! Whichever camp you're in, they've both seasoned and the shows weren't that bad in spite of the situation.Leno has the edge in my house because, as an earlier reply exaggerated, his content is more accessible. When zapped after a long, and possibly quite miserable work day, highbrow Letterman antics can be too much work for tired grey matter to handle. In the absence of interesting guests, one sometimes just wants an easy monologue. Jay provides that, while Dave increasingly comes across as being fed up, wishing to be somewhere else. Maybe he needs a vacation.


"The studios, though standing firm-ish, are a collection of individuals and thus will be a lot easier to divide and conquer."LOL! Yeah, the studios and their multi-billion dollar corporate ownership will be far easier to divide than a bunch of writers. Especially since the WGA is now allowing SOME writers to work but not others. What could possibly go wrong with that?Mike


zzzzzzzzzzz. and that BEARD?! Dave, you're starting to look like Sebastion Cabot or something!


It seems to me that the Worldwide Pants/WGA deal is pretty much the way things have to work. If a company like Worldwide Pants decides to meet WGA terms, what's the WGA supposed to say in response? No, sorry, everyone has to stay after class? Does the UAW demand a deal with Ford before settling a strike against GM?As for the Leno/Letterman battle, it's like this: these guys offer different products. Sure, they're both talk shows, but Letterman appears to the somewhat hipper crowd, while Leno is more palatable to those who enjoy the jokes in Reader's Digest. (Or, looking from the other side, Letterman caters to burned-out cynics, while Leno offers happier, lighter fare.) Switching from Letterman to Leno is no more likely than switching from champagne to ginger ale because, hey, they're both fizzy.

poodle head

so, is Jay's monologue writing itself? say what you will about Letterman, have you ever seen people on strike with a bone to pick given such a platform for doing so? "take a crowbar to your wallets"? that top ten list? he may have a weird beard but he's giving you guys QUITE the soapbox and all those tourists in the audience really do seem to get the jokes.


Aren't people tuning in to see Leno fail? Isn't that the draw? With Letterman's writers back he's working with a net while Leno has the potential to crash and burn so that's much more interesting.What's really going to be interesting is to see hwo in the hell the Daily Show and the Colbert Report will do. Will the five minute interview format expand to 20? That I'll be watching along with everyone else.Rob


I thought Letterman's first show back looked tired and old, just like he did. The network time-wasting was hip in the '80s, now it seems way past its shelf life. Why his bits continue to get nominated for awards escapes me. He is the consummate broadcaster, like his mentor, Carson, was. But the bits should be taken off life-support. Leno's first show back, sans writers, ironically looked better, at least to me. He was looser, actually tried to connect with people, the way talk shows used to do, and wasn't as straight-jacketed into parroting back prepared stuff. It made you wonder at times what would happen next, which talk shows never do anymore. But otherwise, yes, Leno doesn't know the meaning of "less is more," as far as when to stop telling jokes. As I may have said once before in this forum, he's like Denny's. Huge, mediocre portions for middle America.But Dave? In need of a reboot, bit-wise.

D. McEwan

I don't think Leno's appeal is a generational thing. Jay is six weeks older than me, and I only watch Letterman (With the exception noted below), whose jokes don't insult my intelligence, and who is 4 years older than Jay or me.Dave is looking like Sebastian Cabot??? TB, get your TV fixed, as it is severely squashing your image. Sebastian was short and obese. Dave remains tall and thin. The beard is unflaterring, but it doesn't add 70 pounds.Prior to becoming the new host of The Tonight Show, Jay was one of the best and smartest comics around, and one of the most affable and generous. (And, now-ironically, one of the leaders of the infamous Comedy Store Strike of 1979.) I don't know how or if he's changed personally, though I find it hard to believe he's become "A snake." He IS certainly very competitive.But when he became the permanent Tonight Show host, he dumbed his act way down, to attract a "broader", i.e. dumber (You know, Huckabee voters), audience. The sad fact is, it worked. KELV's pathetic comments about his/her tired gray matter being too taxed by Dave (Which says far more about KELV than about Dave) apparently speaks for many. I hope my gray matter is never that tired. Few are Jay's jokes (I catch one Leno monologue per week, to keep abreast of what he's doing, in the vain hope that he'll improve, and become again the Jay I used to respect back in 1980) that I don't see the punchline of coming down Alameda Avenue, and aren't a joke I'd cut, while looking for something more interesting and off-center to say. His POV is always the most obvious: Clinton's a horndog, Bush is dumb, Hilary's a ballbreaker ("Hitlery" Cap'n Bob? Really? You honestly want to go with that one? You actually want to sound like Rush Limbaugh? She's murdered how many million Jews again?), etc. Letterman actually makes the brave choice of not pretending to be non-partesan. His loathing for Bush is made clear each evening.Leno's pretence of impartiality slips when he feels it will benefit him, even if it screws us, as witness his layers of guilt in giving us Governor Schwartzenegger, on whose election night platform he was proud to stand, when he should have been ashamed.As for their interviews, recently Letterman did the impossible; he made an interview with Paris Hilton not only watchable, but unmissable, and he didn't do it by being "Nice and amiable".


David Letterman is a broadcaster. His NBC show was brilliant. We still see the occasionally flashes of brilliance on CBS, but to me, it seems like he's become more cynical and lazy. I get the feeling he's in it now just to outlast Leno.Leno is a stand-up comedian (one of the best of the 80s). He puts on a decent show, but he's not a broadcaster like Letterman. His show is softer than Letterman's, and it appeals to a broader audience, which is why he's been winning all these years. Even if the writers don't come back for months, that's not going to change. People who like Leno will not abandon him for Letterman.Johnny Carson stayed on "Tonight" about a decade too long. He was a hell of an interviewer, but his monologues were lousy. Those 1980s "Tonight Shows" were geared towards the Readers Digest crowd, not cool people and "hipsters", who couldn't wait for "Tonight" to end so Letterman could start. If you think cool people were watching Carson then, then you've drunk the Kool-Aid that deludes people into thinking Carson was better than he actually was. However Johnny was very smart by retiring and never looking back; it helped burnish his legacy. But if you look back at his later shows objectively, they were just as soft as Leno's shows are now, if not more so.


I think I would've enjoyed Dave's interview with Paris if it had been a little less like watching a cat play with a mouse.Oh, and anonymous anti-WGA poster: As others have pointed out, Leno has been kicking Letterman's ass in the ratings pretty much from day one, so the strike isn't likely to change that.


Dave told the Guild that if they didn't give him a special deal, he would go back anyway without writers. For his case, it's too bad he got his deal. On his own, his acid narcissistic personality might have blossomed into something new worth watching. How come Dave with writers had years of "Will It Float?" A bit that threatens to wear out the Fast Forward button.Go Guild!


This special deal for some Guild members to kill the shows of other Guild members is like the Battle of Stalingrad. Russia fought Nazis by threatening to shoot their own soldiers in the back.

The comments to this entry are closed.


    Ken Levine is an Emmy winning writer/director/producer/major league baseball announcer. In a career that has spanned over 30 years Ken has worked on MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, BECKER, DHARMA & GREG, and has co-created his own series including ALMOST PERFECT starring Nancy Travis. He and his partner wrote the feature VOLUNTEERS. Ken has also been the radio/TV play-by-play voice of the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres.
Powered by TypePad