Grade A Certified

No More "JayWalking" on NBC's Tonight Show

Posted by T. Adeyemi on June 2, 2009

After 17 years of stand-up and skits on NBC’s “The Tonight Show”, host Jay Leno has stepped down. Leno, who took over for legendary comic Johnny Carson in 1992 as host of “The Tonight Show” is passing the baton to the hilarious hit-or-miss comedian Conan O’Brien. As reported in 2004 Leno signed a contract extension allowing him to keep his post as host until 2009. Subsequently, O’Brien, Leno’s late night protege inked a deal to become Leno’s predecessor.

After close to 4,000 nightly appearances, having only missed two shows in the duration of his time as host Jay Leno took the stage as host May 29th, 2009 for the last time. “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” was the most watched television show at the 11:30pm time slot for 14 years. Leno’s passing of the torch came with much understanding from both parties. NBC was searching for a younger look in hopes of regaining the 18-49 year old demographic that Leno had seemingly lost a good chunk of to other nightly shows like that of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” & “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Leno himself, had been quoted in saying that he was welcoming the time off and being able to pursue stand-up comedy once again.

NBC’s decision to hire O’Brien as Leno’s replacement did not come without some trepidation, mostly because when O’Brien first began as host of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” NBC was so unsure of its appeal that it only renewed the show in 4-week increments. O’Brien has worked his way through the ranks of comedy and television, having began his career as a writer for “Saturday Night Live” (SNL). Soon after leaving SNL, O’Brien says he career had a rebirth when he became a writer and producer for “The Simpsons.” One of O”Brien’s most notable episodes is, “Treehouse of Horror IV.”

Leno is slated to stay with NBC in their nightly 10:00pm slot as host of a show tentatively called “The Jay Leno Show.” He gracefully bowed out of the 11:30pm slot Friday having O’Brien on as his final guest. O’Brien promised to carry the torch well and attempt to provide just as many laughs with his skits and rehearsed routines as Leno once did. Here are some poignant moments from both genetlemen’s careers on their respective “former” shows.


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