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Leno’s Last Week

May 26th, 2009 by Rebecca Harper Editor

After 16 years as the “King of Late Night,” Jay Leno is hosting his final episodes of The Tonight Show this week before handing the reins to Conan O’Brien. Leno, of course, will be back on NBC this fall as the host of a 10 o’clock show of his own. You can catch Leno’s final late night performances, though, right here on Hulu — episodes are posted the morning after they air. And to wrap things up this week, Leno has a lined up Mel Gibson and Lyle Lovett, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dwight Yoakam, Wanda Sykes and Sarah McLachlan, Billy Crystal and Prince, and as his final guest (appropriately enough), Conan O’Brien.

“I’m [going to be] off the air for less time than the writers’ strike. I’ll be back in September with a new show. I think it’ll be a lot of fun. It’s not like we’re leaving show business, or even the studio. Or even the lot,” Leno recently said by phone. “I’m glad we’re going out as No. 1. It’s the same feeling when you return a rent-a-car with no dents and a full tank of gas. There’s no sadness. I’m taking a lot of the same people to this show. ”

When asked his favorite parts of the show are, Leno had two answers: “The most fun is doing the monologue. I am a nightclub performer who was lucky enough to get a TV show,” he said. “Before I had the show, something would happen in the news, and I would run down to the Improv, tell a topical joke and get a laugh. It’s like fresh-squeezed orange juice, right from the vine.”

“Headlines is also one of my favorites. I enjoy the real people stuff. If you give them enough rope, they’ll hang themselves. … If you see a fat guy, you make fun of his tie. You see a banker, a Wall Street guy, you nail ‘em. If he’s a working guy, a blue collar worker, a janitor or something, you build him up.”

When Leno returns in the fall, he’ll be the lone comedian in a sea of cop dramas — but that doesn’t have him worried. “In a world of emails and Twittering, there’s something to that one-on-one contact. It’s human contact,” he said. “There’s more drama right now than there’s ever been, every time I turn on the TV … there really isn’t any comedy at 10 o’clock. It’s fun to do something a little bit different.”

In the meantime, Leno’s final work is sure to be full of montages with some of his favorite Tonight Show moments. And if you can’t stay up to watch the show at 11:35 on NBC, you catch full episodes and clips the next day on Hulu.

Rebecca ()

Last comment: May 26th 2009 3 Comments
  • BMB says:

    Great line by Leno about the rental car. I’ve always been ok with Leno, but he’s never been my favorite. I can’t remember a time where I’ve ever laughed really hard from his show. A good chuckle, sure, but not a hearty laugh.

    Conan on the other hand practically makes me pee my pants. I think he is hysterical, and what I like about him that you don’t see in many comedians is that he’s not afraid to make fun of himself. He brings a sense of humility to his show with just the right amount of quirkiness that makes it great.

    Can’t wait for the new era to begin and better yet, to watch Conan on Hulu!

  • Roger says:

    Jay, thats for all the laughs. We will miss you. I like Conan but he aint not Jay Leno.

    Good luck with your new show. I will watch.

  • dmccall says:

    I’m sad to see that Conan’s new show will be in L.A.