Comedy.com sent a couple of writers to crash the Jay Leno Show test taping this week and review it. Their verdict? Leno’s new show is a lot like his old show. (Toldja!) The writers called it “muddled and confusing”, and “a big ladle serving us more imitation comedy gruel”. Ouch!
They saw lots of “car art” onstage, and a separate double-door entry just for comedians (different from the guests’). Then, near their seats in the lobby was a discarded script: a sketch featuring Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) being attacked by the “JMZ” paparazzi. “It was so bad it was good,” the writers wrote.That sketch is going to be a recurring gag.
Leno in his monologue told a joke about President Obama’s recent speech to America’s youth about staying in school and getting good grades. The punchline was, “and then George W. Bush gave his rebuttal.” The writers were amazed that later that night on The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien told the exact same joke in his monologue! “Maybe a sign of things to come: three guys in one night, all on the same network, all fighting for the same monologue jokes. This could get ugly.” (I think it’s just more NBC cost-cutting as Jeff Zucker manages for margins: recycled jokes are cheaper than originals.)
There was the inevitable product pitch: a Ford-sponsored concept of a “green” race track that was “essentially a long Ford commercial – sounds hilarious, right?,” the writers asked. “Not so much.” Guest Selma Blair changed and took the wheel of an Electric Ford Focus “which couldn’t look less like a race car”, and, like celebrities do on the BBC show Top Gear, had two minutes to go around the track twice. “She made it in 58 seconds…that felt like an hour.”