Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Starting with my sophomore year in college (1993), I had a routine that I followed every weeknight. I would make sure all of my homework, flirting with girls and other mindless college activities were completed by 11:35, and then I would sit down and watch the first 25 minutes of David Letterman. Back then, I couldn't really stay up later than midnight, because my classes were wearing me the hell out (as opposed to now, when I can't sleep before midnight). So I'd make sure I stayed up long enough to catch Letterman's opening monologue, his Top 10 list, and maybe the first few minutes of his interview with his initial guest.

To me Letterman is a genius. Yes he reads the cue cards like a good boy, but he is not afraid to veer off and vamp on his own, and sometimes he appears to be even funnier when he does it. When he interviews his guests, he won't let you just come on and plug your product for 10-15 minutes, because he knows how boring that is. He keeps you off balance, he gently ribs if he likes you, and if he dislikes you, he'll try to make you look bad, but also give you a chance to get him right back (see Madonna's 1994 appearance or Joaquin Phoenix's appearance last year). The bottom line, Letterman conducts himself on his show, the way I would if I had a show..except I'd ditch Paul Shaffer, and lure The Roots away from Jimmy Fallon so they could be my house band.

I was so much in love with Letterman's shtick, that I had ZERO patience for anyone who liked Jay Leno's show. He wasn't funny (he's much better as a stand up comedian), his interviews may as well have been done on his knees, because he sucked up to everyone, without ever making life even a little difficult for his guests. The only redeeming quality about his show initially was that Branford Marsalis was the bandleader, and even he bailed after a few years, because he was tired of laughing at corny ass jokes (my own words, not his). The man who replaced Branford was Kevin Eubanks, and he is to Jay Leno what Robin Quivers is to Howard Stern. He laughs at things that aren't funny, and he just seems like he's along for the ride.

I say all this to say that I am delighted at the recent backlash that Leno is in the midst of, as a result of NBC's decision to move his show at Conan O'Brien's expense. Conan, like Leno, is legitimately funny, but because Leno's dumbed down brand of late night comedy has been the norm for so long, the viewing public slow to catch on, so his ratings aren't the best right now. NBC execs have conveniently short memories, and they forget that Letterman initially kicked the sh*t out of Leno from '93 to '95, and it took Leno awhile to get his footing. So I hope Leno drops from the late night scene completely, and goes back to stand up comedy, where he can poke fun at himself and everyone else. And yes this whole entry is completely biased and one sided.

The song you will see posted below had nothing to do with this entry. But this morning on my ipod, the song Marche Slave came on, and I remembered I used to play this song in my high school orchestra. The trumpet parts in particular were extremely difficult to learn, but I did it, and the song has always stuck with me as result.


Miss. Lady said...

I am just mad that NBC rearranged their whole programming schedule for Leno's show which has thrown me off my regular SVU schedule, and now they want to cancel Leno's show?? I can't keep going through these changes.

Jazzbrew said...

I was raised on Johnny Carson. Johnny was brilliant at keeping an interview interesting but also allowing the guest to have the spotlight. Letterman is also very good at this (AND he's funny). Leno is the worst when it comes to interviews (which is what the show is about). Let your guest talk for crying outloud.

I'm also a Conan fan. Dude is funny as hell but you're right... the Leno crowd hasn't quite latched on to his brand of humor. No offense to Fallon but the Roots is the only reason why I tune in now.

soft and subtle said...

Jazzbrew you're so right... from the day Fallon aired, his show sucked and still does. I was viewing his show just to watch The Roots as well but then I couldn’t take it anymore.... they NEED to drop Fallon NOW! As for Jay, he has personality and that’s what people like. He’s like a teddy bear; he’s just likable.