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Mar. 2 2010 - 6:17 am | 4,487 views | 2 recommendations | 14 comments

Leno insults Lindsey Vonn, bores audience in tone-deaf return

"Up next... jokes about David Stockman!"

"Up next... jokes about David Stockman!"

In his first show as the recrowned host of NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno offered a master class in all that’s wrong with his safe, bland take on comedy and just why the younger, Internet-savvy audiences NBC so desperately wants to retain view him as an over-the-hill comedian who just won’t let go.

And, at least for this first night back, the reconstituted “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” was a stunning display of tone deafness that ranged from bland to weird to uncomfortable and offensive.

Let’s start with the latter: In an interview with skier and Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn, Leno noted that her picture on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Olympic preview issue last month had raised eyebrows; would SI have asked a male athlete to pose in such a sexualized position, the charges went from the chattering classes. Vonn said she didn’t understand the complaints (“That’s how I ski”) and Leno mocked the controversy by showing a doctored version of the image with himself in Vonn’s place.

And yet only moments prior to that, Leno noted that Vonn’s husband is also her skiing coach and trainer and a guiding force behind her success. “Does that work in all aspects… in the bedroom, everywhere?” Leno asked with a smile. To her credit, Vonn nervously laughed it off and moved on — though what she should have done was punch him in the mouth. Would Leno have asked that of a male athlete? Tone-deaf…

The weird moments came from the evening’s first guest, Jamie Foxx, who tried to fire up the crowd by leading them in chants of Jay Leno’s name and spraying the crowd with a bottle of victory champagne, as if he was helping to laud the return of a conquering hero.

Leno, for his part, simply sat back looking bemused, seemingly happy to once again be in the position of having someone else kiss his ass and doing little to stop it. And yet, the whole display bore little connection to the reality of the situation. The audience in the studio might have been amused (or might not have been), but Foxx’s hip hop-pep squad routine belied the notion that Leno’s re-ascension was the cause of much teeth gnashing among millioins of TV fans and also that Leno’s only back at 11:30 p.m. because his 10 p.m. show was such a colossal failure that it threatened to destroy the entire NBC network. Some hero. Tone-deaf…

As for the actual comedy, it can be summed up in one moment: during his monologue, Leno introduced a new bit called “How Boring Is Alan Greenspan?” and then showed a clip of the former Federal Reserve chairman from “Meet the Press.” Get the joke? The 84-year-old Greenspan, who retired from the Fed and has been out of the news for four years, is old and boring. Ha. Ha?

As the prime time “The Jay Leno Show” show was imploding in January and the Internet commentariet were pillorying him for his agreement to first subvert, and then replace, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno always displayed a kind of beffudlement over how he came to be seen as the villain in the whole melodrama.

Monday night’s show is exhibit A in why so many — myself included — shuddered at the thought of his return to “Tonight.” He’s the comedian who seems to exist in different, tone-deaf — and unfunny — parallel universe that’s about five years behind everyone else. And this is who NBC is banking on?


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  1. collapse expand

    The benefit of being media is we get an inside look at this slow motion train wreck that we wouldn’t get in other industries.

  2. collapse expand

    I am 100% confident that had Leno been talking to a male athlete whose wife was also coach, he would have made a toilet seat joke.

    “So…does she coach you around the house too? Toilet seat up! Toilet seat down! Don’t hog the remote!”

    (awkward Eubanks laughter)

  3. collapse expand

    Ugh. Still, consider this: NBC might be making the right call. The way things are going, Boomers will soon be the only American demographic with any money (which they essentially stole from all successive generations, but that’s another story). As a bonus, most Boomers don’t know how to work their DVRs, so they’re going to watch all the commercials. What we’re seeing here is not (or not exclusively) the collapse of all reason at NBC; it’s the last stand of Television As It Was.

    • collapse expand

      Spot on. Greenberg: Leno exists in a “…different, tone-deaf – and unfunny – parallel universe that’s about five years behind everyone else.”

      He just described Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City, and every Indian casino across the vast decrepit economic sprawl of Bushlandia. Which is exactly where America’s Boomers will take what little 401(k) cash they can scrape together, and use it to buy tickets to Leno’s “stand up.”

      In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand


      Are you serious? Boomers stole from all successive generations? Explain please.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  4. collapse expand

    If you need a reminder of ‘funny’ then check Conan’s twitter account: http://twitter.com/ConanOBrien

  5. collapse expand

    Spot on, as usual (though I confess that I did not watch said return). Truly, Jay Leno is New Coke:


    But your description makes him sound even worse, like New Coke that has been sitting open on a counter for years. No bubbles, just lukewarm syrup.

  6. collapse expand

    As Jimmy Kimmel put it, “he used to be a comedian.”

  7. collapse expand

    Thank you for watching this so we don’t have to.

  8. collapse expand


    thank you for having the courage to experience the gut wrenching pain and remind me why I chose not to watch it…

    It’s a sorry situation that is more a “condition” than a “common cold.” That means it’s likely only to get worse and will never go away.

    Take that people…

    Off to enjoy more Letterman…


  9. collapse expand

    Not to worry. When gorgeous Gov. Sarah Palin appears as his guest, Leno’s ratings will rocket into the stratoshpere.

    • collapse expand

      I’m not a Jay fan, but I am looking forward to Palin’s appearance tonight. She is such a shallow, ill-informed trainwreck that I can’t wait to hear what inanities will come out of her mouth tonight. I’m sure I’ll be ROTFLMAO at her and her silly BS.

      As governor, the ‘windfall tax’ she put on all the oil companies in Alaska, and her redistribution of those dollars, made her the biggest elected socialist in the entire history of the USA…what a hypocrite.

      I did watch Jay’s return last night, just because I can’t resist a tv ‘event’. He was predictably smug and blase. I found Jamie Foxx to be extremely annoying, with his ‘trying-too-hard-to-the-best-entertainer-ever schtick.When he knocked over the mug, I think that might have been an omen for the future of this show.

      Kudos to Lindsey Vonn for handling Jay’s juvenile crass in a classy manner.

      NBC has really stepped in it and this show is going to be stuck on the bottom of their shoe for a long time.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  10. collapse expand

    The part about the target audience is especially true. Leno’s crowd will only get older, and the Conan fans are much younger than Leno’s. As a Craig Ferguson fan, I can only hope that Dave will one day step down and Craig will take his place.

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