Saturday, January 9, 2010

Laugh til it hurts

By now you’ve probably heard about the whole Jay Leno/Conan O’Brian scheduling fiasco that is going on over at NBC.

The plan appears to be to move the absolutely non-performing Jay Leno Show into the Tonight Show slot and move the Tonight Show to a midnight (ET) slot. (NBC apparently would have to pay a huge penalty to Conan O'Brian if they moved Tonight to any later time slot.)

In case you didn’t know Jay Leno’s show not only did NOT save NBC as they were gambling on, but they’ve pissed off tons of NBC affiliates who are none too happy about the weak lead in to their local late news programs and subsequently into The Tonight Show and Jimmy Fallon.

So instead of canceling The Jay Leno Show like any sane person would do – after all it was an experiment, a gamble, AND IT DID NOT PAY OFF – and keeping The Tonight Show and Conan in their current slot and just marketing them better, NBC appears to be bending over backwards to keep the great Leno.

Now, I think Leno is a nice guy and all, but his comedy is extremely bland to me; it’s predictable, and predictable comedy is boring. I’m more a Letterman fan, and especially lately a fan of Craig Ferguson’s catchy insanity. The Jimmys – Kimmel and Fallon – are both fun younger comedians.

But Leno has had his time in the sun. He took over the Tonight Show from Johnny Carson and sat in that chair for 16 years. If NBC really loves the guy, make the Jay Leno Show a once a week comedy/variety show. Instead of cranking out flaccid comedy five times a week, Leno can hone his bits and sharpen his humor. Make it a once a week event instead of a nightly snooze-fest. That way they can bring one hour dramas back to that time slot. (I was so looking forward to more Southland when NBC whacked it and changed their scheduling for The Great Comedy Experiment.) Besides, Fox says they would take Jay (can you see the matron-friendly Jay Leno on edgy the Fox network).

NBC, you’re already the last place network. By treating Conan O’Brian this way, you’re just going to dig a deeper hole for yourself. Do the right thing and let Jay Leno go (you cancel shows all the time, so what’s the big freaking deal?).

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