Friday, January 29, 2010

Why I Think Jay Leno is a Thoroughly Decent Human Being

   Yeah, you read that right.  Poor Jay is being made a scapegoat for some pretty shabbily-behaving network execs.  In the whole Tonight Show fiasco, Conan came out looking like the angelic victim and Jay came out looking like the evil bully.  I don't think either one of these portrayals is accurate.

     In our society, it seems that we are conditioned to pull for the underdog.  We love the newcomer, trying to move up and prove himself.  We don't like the old established guy even if he is good at his job.  It's like everyone lately is vicariously living out this drama where we completely identify with the guy being pushed out, without really seeing who is doing the pushing.

Here are some reasons why I think Jay does not deserve our wrath:

1.  He feels responsible for keeping the 80 (correction: 175) people working for him employed.  I think this is honorable.  If he quits, they lose their jobs.

2.  He doesn't even live off of the money he makes from his TV shows.  He puts it all into a foundation and makes donations to charity.  He makes his own money by doing stand-up comedy all over the country.

3.  He went and did 2 free shows for the car workers in Michigan when things were going south for them.  He never publicized this, and when a guest on his show mentioned it he quickly shut them down and moved on.  

4.  He is a hard worker.  In addition to his show (every week night!) he travels all around the country doing stand-up comedy.  This is how he tests the material for his show.  (The jokes he tells on TV must appeal to people all across the nation.)

5.  His only "crime" is that he took a job that another guy wanted.  How many of us have ever turned down a job we were offered simply because someone else wanted it?

6.  He never wanted to leave the Tonight Show in the first place.  After being forced out, he negotiated his own show.  Who can blame him?  Then, he was canceled.  Then, he was offered his old job back (the one he didn't want to leave in the first place!), and he accepted it.  Again, who can blame him?  Do you think they would've kept Conan on if he had refused?  No.  Conan was out anyway.  They would've just gotten someone else.

7.  Conan is going to be okay.  He got a $45 million walk-away deal, and you know he's going to get another show somewhere.  He's not exactly going to be living in a cardboard box anytime soon.

8.  Jay has been totally open and has even agreed to be interviewed on the subject.  Conan has not. 
     I know it's cool to be on "Team Conan" these days, but the truth of the matter is that Conan just wasn't good enough.  If the ratings had been good, then he'd still be hosting the Tonight Show.  It's as simple as that.  Also, he could have kept his show, but he refused to go back to the later time.  Who's the diva in this scenario?
     Please don't get me wrong.  I'm not trying to say that what went down was okay.  Conan DID get screwed.  Absolutely.  But the real villain here is NBC.  Let's leave Jay alone.


  1. I don't watch either show except maybe once in a deep blue moon, and I haven't kept up with the current drama either, (I only know what my father-in-law told me, and he's on Jay's side), but I always liked Jay Leno better than Conan. Not sure why anyone would be on Conan's team, frankly. His humor never appealed to me.

  2. I agree, Kim. Conan's humor always seemed snide, sarcastic, and self-serving to me. Jay makes fun of people too, but it's in more of a good-natured way. Also, Jay moves really quickly from joke to joke. Conan tells one joke, then has several minutes of filler while he prances around doing something silly. I think Jay is the more skilled comedian.

  3. I honestly like Jay and Conan. When Jay was first on the Tonight show, it took a good 2-3 yrs for his show to get popular and liked.....
    I hated it the first few years it was on.
    Conan really never got that shot. I think after a year or two, his show would have caught on more. don't get changes for anything on TV these days. They were going to take Chuck off the air and a bunch of other quality shows. Thank goodness the fans were able to change that.
    ...But NBC should have never changed things around. You gotta love the Execs. They are idiots!!
    I think Jay should have fought more to stay on the Tonight show. But that is just me.
    Conan is going to do what he has to do and thank goodness was able to get such a good deal to leave so his crew would be compensated until he can find another job. They packed up and left NY when they could have just stayed where they were. (kids and all)
    On the Bright side of things...I am VERY Happy that Jimmy Fallon was able to have his show. It is AWESOME!!! Just wish it was on earlier. : )
    Enough of my novel. I am going to bed!

  4. Christi, I totally agree. They could've let Conan have more of a chance. The network bigwigs handled the whole thing really badly. I'm not sure if Jay could've done anything more to make them let him stay on the tonight show. ...and I agree that it's terrible to make so many people move to California only to have them lose their jobs in 7 months. That sucks for those guys! It'll be interesting to see what happens.