It’s been sixty-some shows now and I am really happy for the success that Jimmy Fallon has had, but as much as I hate to admit it, I miss Jay Leno.
Part of it has to do with longevity. Leno, like Carson before him, was on for years and years and years. It became a part of life, to get through the day and crawl into bed and see who was on The Tonight Show, tonight.
But the thing is, I was never really much of a fan of Leno. He ran an okay show, but just okay. He never did any of the wacky stuff that made David Letterman a name back when he was starting out. Leno never threw anything off of a tall building, or ran it over with some huge construction machine. He told jokes. And he introduced guests. And he was very generous with them—they got to make a few jokes, they got to tell their stories and we learned very little about Jay.
But toward the end, after the ill-fated prime time exercise and after Kevin Eubanks left the show, it just seemed like a lot of the life ran out of the show. Leno would milk punchlines by repeating “…exactly! …exactly!” over and over. He just wasn’t trying very hard any more.
But Jimmy Fallon is in it to win it. Jimmy regularly competes with his guests and he plays for blood. Why? He’s got the show. He won. Why not, if you’re going to do something like this, why not let the guest win from time to time? I already know more about Jimmy Fallon than I do about Leno and Letterman combined—and I’m a racing fan and know about Dave’s IndyCar team!
Life moves on. And sometimes it’s not easy about it. I like Jimmy Fallon a lot. He has brought his own stamp to late night television. Still, toward the end there, I wasn’t really a fan of Jay Leno. But I miss him, now that he’s gone.
And I downloaded “Kevin’s Country” on iTunes, the old closing theme song to The Tonight Show during the Leno years.