Late night is Coco-crazy: All the Conan, Letterman, Leno, Kimmel jokes

Jay Leno continued his amazing gall last night in attempting to make the coup that NBC and he have engineered to reclaim The Tonight Show from Conan O’Brien seem like an act of heroism.

Confirming reports that he’ll return to hosting The Tonight Show as of Mar. 1, he said, “I have chosen to stay on the Titanic.” But that “joke” implies that someone else chose not to stay at NBC, when everyone except Leno seems to know that Conan was pushed off the Titanic. I mean, NBC.

Depending on how you watched it, Leno either wussed out or showed the serene swagger of a victorious survivor. Unlike the night before, when he was busy hauling David Letterman’s wife into a joke.

First, last night’s Best Late-Night Taped Bit goes to Jimmy Kimmel, who did a wonderful Ken Burns’ Civil War parody of the subject, complete with a mock-historian analyzing how General Jeff Zucker had “authorized an attack on his own forces” — cut to old tintype showing Jay slaying Conan:

A close second was David Letterman, who ran a “Jay Leno File,” documenting Leno’s history of transgressions, including the possible murder of James Stewart. Dave remains delightfully ruthless and gloriously tasteless.

As for Conan himself, his penultimate show was uneven. Having Robin Williams on to run around using the f-word and act as though he was peeing on NBC, or Ben Stiller popping out to make some unfunny jokes about the ecological unsoundness of building “a $50 million studio you only use for seven months,” or inviting Pee-wee Herman in to explain the NBC settlement with various toys was okay, but beyond the notion that Conan’s lawyer is Optimus Prime, it wasn’t all that hilarious.

It was an odd night in late-night. Aside from Stiller’s stillborn funniness, there was also Harrison Ford on Letterman, going off a bit on people who sought his autograph as “autograph merchants,” accusing a boy who’d accosted him outside the Late Show studio as actually being “a 45 year-old man in a boy suit.” Weird…

It took Conan himself to provide his own most clever gag, bringing out what he claimed was Derby-winning horse Mine The Bird in a “mink Snuggie” for a bit O’Brien said was “not so much funny as crazy expensive”:

Finally, Letterman addressed some criticism he’s received (not here) for what he called “the inequity in my attacks,” saying many folks feel he’s done more Leno jokes than Conan jokes. “The thing is, I have known Jay forever,” said Letterman. “And it’s just more fun to tell jokes about Jay.”

Everything’s revving up for tonight’s final Conan Tonight Show. Will you be watching? What did you think of last night’s talk-show coverage by the talk-show hosts?

Follow me on Twitter @kentucker

For more on late-night:

NBC execs on Jay Leno’s return to ‘The Tonight Show’

Comments (218 total) Add your comment
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  • dee dee

    I will be watching Coco; Jay is no longer relevant – just sad

    • imo

      It’s the other way around since tonight is Conan’s last night, YES! Happy dance oh a happy dance. After tonight the world of late night becomes right again. Happy dance oh a happy dance :)

      • LB

        You’re a sad, sad individual.

      • Agree w/ LB

        and a loser, too.

      • Katie

        There’s really no need to be hateful…

    • nacf

      Have to repost since they deleted the last one. Conan is the one not relevant since tonight is his last night. YES! Happy dance oh a happy dance. The world of late night is right again. Happy dance oh a happy dance :)

    • @Kevin

      Happy dance oh a happy dance. So glad tonight is Conan’s last night. He is the one who is not relevant since he is gone now, yeah!

      • Jerry

        lol at the Leno fan posting the same thing under 3 different names. Nice to know Leno’s fans are as pathetic and desperate as he is.

      • HAHAHHA

        @Kevin, nacf, imo–whatever the eff your name is, your stupid, lame “happy dance” joke is STILL not funny, no matter how many times you post it. Or are you just completely stupid? Let me give you a tutorial. See that “post comment” button down there? You only have to hit it ONCE, sunshine.

  • LB

    I thought Robin Williams was hilarious. And I found Conan’s song at the end touching. At this point, it doesn’t matter if Coco’s show is as funny as anyone else’s. As long as he gets the send-off he wants surrounded by people he enjoys, it seems satisifying enough to me.

    • Jilly

      Pee Wee Herman was hilarious: “One day the Peacock lost its mind”!!! So true. Conan, you rock. Something better is coming for you. All the best.

    • Amelia

      Agreed, LB!

  • Jeff

    Harrison Ford always comes off as a very odd bird no matter who interviews him. Strange guy.

    • SenorPlaid

      That’s a kind way of saying that he’s just an a$$, which he is. Dude, if you hate fame so much, STFU and walk away from it, like Meryl does.

      • BlackIrish4094

        I agree, I hate these multi-millionaires bitching about autographs. Hey, charge for them and buy that Ally McBeal chick a sandwich.

    • ichorwhip

      Ford’s a no-nonsense type that doesn’t play the fake Hollywood celebrity game well at all. His brief “F off!” in “Bruno” was the best thing in that movie. LOL!

    • LJ

      I thought it was just me who felt that say. In interviews, he comes across as if he is being inconvenienced by having to sit throught the whole thing.

      • LJ

        “through” not “throught”

  • rey

    where is letterman’s part. he addressed the criticism about why he hasnt attacked conan. then he had a staff read a bunch of conan jokes. they were actually leno jokes with “conan obrien” inserted in jay’s place.

    • Mel

      haha

  • TheObserver

    Robin Williams Irish ditty needs to be made available on itunes for downloading…I’m not even joking. And Conan can dance…maybe he should become a rockette

  • Cyndy

    Last night was a perfect demonstration why NBC is throwing Conan to the curb – HE IS NOT FUNNY!! And while that can sometimes be overlooked, his “jokes” are nothing more than self-indulgent crap. Not that I’m in love with either Jay or Dave but Conan’s “humor” just isn’t humorous.

    • ftw

      thats your opinion, and in my opinion conan is funnier than the other two combined…but really..who the hell watches nbc for comedy anyway..i turn that shit on to goto sleep.

  • Kevin

    Ken
    You seem to cast Leno as the bad guy mentioning, amount other things, that Jay brought Letterman’s wife into the jokes. Where was your outrage when Letterman brought Leno’s wife into his joke mentioning how Leno and his wife can’t have kids.

    • pat

      Huh? WTF are you talking about??

      • Tat

        I agree, Jay was pushed out of the tonight show so Conan could have his shot, and Conan missed. NBC put both Jay and Conan in this position. I don’t blame Conan for being upset, but I also don’t blame Jay for returning to something he never wanted to give up in the first place.

    • LIva

      I agree. Both ‘sides’ have been distasteful and both have been funny. Someone who just scored tens of millions for 7 months work does not need defending; Jay’s no bully and Conan’s no victim.

      • Your mom

        Conan = victim
        Leno = bully
        Pretty simple actually… Conan doesn’t need defending because he’s handled this whole process masterfully.

      • Dude

        Yea, “masterfully” — big word. If by masterfulyl you mean, “made out like a bandit with 40 million dollars simply because he refused to move 30-minutes later when asked to stay on the show” then yes, it was masterful. What a poor poor VICTIM he is, getting NOTHING but 40 MILLION DOLLARS to show for his efforts. Poor Coco.

      • Cardsgal

        Yes, boo — effing – hoo, Conan: I wish that I had just been fired from my dream job and given $30+ million. As my mama always says, “Money softens the blow.”

      • elgin

        Conan=victim in that NBC completely undercut his show when they put Leno at 10, and then were about to undercut it some more when they wanted to push the Tonight Show into tomorrow morning bacause that’s what Jay asked for in order to allow NBC to not have to pay him a penalty for cancelling his 10 PM turd.

      • Kimberly

        What bothers me about you people talking about Conan’s “40 Million” is that you are missing the point entirely. It is not now, nor was ever about the money. It was Conan’s dream to host The Tonight Show. He worked hard and accomplished it. Now he’s having it ripped away from him. It’s about a heart-break. Not about money.

      • boooo

        I think everyone is upset that Jay is intent on destroying the Tonight Show. Critics are saying the show will be dead and gone within a few years. All because Jay is a big greedy baby. Conan was trying to protect an American Icon. Jay just wants more fame and money for doing a whole lot of crappy paint-by-numbers comedy.

      • Mandy

        TOTALLY agree! He’s walking with over $30 MILLION!! Poor baby.

      • joe

        you guys are friggen retards.

        conan didn’t want to move to 12:00 because it’ no longer a ‘tonight show’, it’s late night, destroys the brand, etc. NBC was kicking conan in the face by saying you have the tonight show, but we’re going to keep jay 30 mins ahead of you because he’s better.

        Conan didn’t want to be bought out, he cares more about his staff than himself, perhaps you didn’t read the article about how he’s going to supplement his staff’s severance out his own pocket because what NBC offered to the staff wasn’t good enough.

        If a mother lost her daughter in a car accident because she was hit by a drunk driver, sued the drunk driver and won 30 million, is she no longer a victim? Yeah conan got 30 mil or whatever, but he lost his dream, his own staff is now unemployed. He’s probably worth far more than 30 million…

      • Jonny Q

        I get the feeling that somehow, Conan was pretty rich before this — and would have actually preferred to stick to the “dream job.” Now he has “failure” written across his forehead by people who failed him. Right, don’t feel sorry for him — but how would YOU feel in his shoes anyway?

      • Ray

        I’m sick of reading comments about “He’s getting millions to leave”. He was also getting millions to do the job he did. Him getting $32mil to leave is no different that someone who makes 50g getting 150g to leave if his reported yearly salary of $10mil is correct. If you make 50g, could you live forever on a settlement of 150g? I think not. The more money you make, that more expensive your life style. He still has house and car payments to make like anybody else.

      • Shel

        I’m tired of hearing how he “lost his dream.” Give me a break! He just is better at PR. Jay lost HIS dream job too, but – once again – we only care about Conan. Jay is going to RUIN the Tonight Show? Yah, sure, even though he preserved it as # 1 for 17 years. I do feel sorry for Conan, but seriously people – this canonization is going just a bit too far. Conan wanted the job, he did his best to push for it (including not caring about pushing someone out). He *should* supplement his staff’s buyouts, because he is a millionaire and it was his decision to leave. Perhaps “preserving the franchise” (again, great PR) is a valid reason – but it was still HIS DECISION. He felt he couldn’t do what they asked him to do – and unlike most of us, he has the money to be able to tell them to take the job and shove it – which is what he did.

    • AK

      It was DON’T have kids. As in, Conan needs this job and Jay doesn’t. Remember now?

      • Kimmel

        And it was Kimmel, not Letterman

      • dakmart

        And that was Jimmy Kimmel who reminded Leno that he didn’t have any kids.

        BTW, the Letterman bit referred to earlier (where writer Joe Grossman told “Conan” jokes that were actually Jay jokes) ended with a Letterman joke, which got the biggest laugh of the bit — nobody does self-deprecation like Dave (although Ferguson is right behind him).

      • Dude

        I hope the 40 millino is enough to hold the family over for a while. God knows i would have trouble keeping my FAMILY well-fed and taken care of with that small sum.

      • John

        Oh yeah, I really feel bad for the poor, multi-millionaire Conan. How is he ever going to feed his family now?

      • Amelia

        I don’t think Conan is asking for anyone’s pity. If you, or anybody, was offered that much money, wouldn’t you accept it? Can’t blame him for that.

    • Chris

      I think it was Jimmy Kimmel who made that joke (“Letterman & I have kids to support, not you”), not Letterman

    • elgin

      Never heard him say that…does not sound like Dave. The Kimmel thing was very, very funny

    • @Kevin

      You are so right.

      • julie

        except he is wrong. kimmel, NOT letterman, made the joke about leno NOT having kids to support, not that he couldn’t have kids.

    • jets

      Letterman is classy enought not to do that Kevin. You’re just making stuff up.

      Oh, and I’ve figured out where those who profese love for Leno, stubborn in their beleif that’s he’s a “good guy,” and Letterman is “a bitter old man:” they’re the right wing nuts who still think Bush was an awesome President and Obama is the antichrist. Unlike Leno Letterman shows conviction and personality, unlike the empty shill and pupet Leno has always been.

      :) check out my novels? :D THX! http://tinyurl.com/ygh3vux http://cameronglenn.wordpress.com/

      • Shel

        Letterman is not too “classy” to trash Leno for weeks because, as he says, “it’s fun.” And as for your generalizations, it just shows how limited your mind is, jets, so I will pass on your “novels.” I happen to think all the late night hosts are funny and I voted for Obama. I know, the nerve of me not hating Leno like I’m supposed to. Hope I’m not thrown out of the left wing for it.

    • christine

      Do we even know why Leno doesn’t have kids? People are assuming they cannot conceive when there are plenty of people out there that choose not to have kids.

      • Nicolars

        I think the only reason Leno does not have children is because he values cars more than people.

      • Coyote

        It’s none of your business. (I can’t believe I’m defending Leno; he11 has frozen over!)

    • Coyote

      You are sooo full of crap. Check your facts before you type, you bu++ crack.

      • Vacharapong

        What I can say is that Russians just dirfefenrt from western people…not worse and not better…but when Russians move to western countries they became like western people very quick.

    • Shel

      While it wasn’t Letterman who made the tasteless “we have kids to support” joke (that was Kimmel’s), I agree with your basic point, Kevin. There is definitely a double-standard here, especially with Ken Tucker. It’s one thing for bloggers to go all ga-ga, but Tucker is supposed to be a journalist covering it at least somewhat impartially. But Leno is “hauling Letterman’s wife” into a joke, while Dave is “gloriously tasteless.” Shame on you, Mr. Tucker, for seeming to believe all the crap written in your blogs. You have bought into all the “gloriously tasteless” jokes of Letterman & Kimmel, when you should be mad at NBC, not Leno. Leno didn’t force Conan out – Conan made a decision and had to accept the consequences. It sounds from your articles like you believe Leno was just supposed to quit. If NBC didn’t want to fire him, why was it his responsibility to quit? I agree with the others who have said crying over some guy walking away with 40 million bucks and who can go back to work (!!!!) in just 7 months is just ridiculous.

  • weenz

    Loved it last night when Barry Manilow told Conan that his staff loved him. Kinda goes against what people were saying that he had screwed over his staff by deciding not to do the 12:05 show.
    Also enjoying all the surprise guests coming on the show no matter how funny or unfunny they were. just love watching all the support he’s getting. excited to see his last show tonight… excited and sad

  • KSH

    Ken,
    I need you to preface your late-night blogs with “Team CoCo” in the title. I remember Dave making jokes about Leno’s and his wife not having children – and that did not upset you at all.

    All these men should grow up. Even if it takes $45 million to do so.

    • Coyote

      Is this Kevin rehashing the lie he posted earlier? Repeating it doesn”t make it true.

  • Q

    I never stay up for late night, but I’ll be watching Coco tonight!

  • Mary

    Hate Jay. The reason he can’t put a good spin on taking back the Tonight Show is because there IS no good spin on knifing your successor in the back.

  • Davidsask

    Jimmy killed it in his sketch!

    • Roma

      My favorite late night moment last night came from Jimmy Fallon, not Jimmy Kimmel. Jimmy Fallon: Let’s see, I’m the current host of the Late Show on NBC, following Letterman and Conan, which I think means I am guaranteed that I will never have a chance to host the Tonight Show, or something to that effect. Ever watch someone trying to interject into a conversation and duck out at the same time? That was him…

  • Terry

    Conan was pushed off? Get sick of hearing that. They were going to move his show back a half hour. Now I know The Tonight Show has always aired at 1130 but so what. This is not Carson’s show. Hasn’t been for almost 20 years. Other shows get moved around all the time, sometimes fatally, but you don’t see the actors throwing a fit and threatening to walk off.

    • Shel

      Does anyone know if Carson considered quitting The Tonight Show when NBC dared to cut it from 90 minutes to 60? Or was it his idea? I honestly don’t remember – but I do know this: the franchise didn’t die. lol

  • Linda

    The bottom line is that Jay reniged on his agreement to leave the tonight show to Conan after 5 years. He was supposed to retire, not take a 10:00 spot, fail and then go back to 11:30. And NBC allowed him to do it so they’re the ones at fault as well. Conan got screwed by NBC like Letterman did. I will never watch Leno again.

  • Brian Wallace

    “But that ‘joke’ implies that someone else chose not to stay at NBC, when everyone except Leno seems to know that Conan was pushed off the Titanic. I mean, NBC.”

    Someone else DID choose not to stay at NBC. His name is Conan O’ Brien. They gave him the option to keep “The Tonight Show”, keep it at an hour but just move it back to midnight. He refused. How can you not see that? Has your irrational hatred for all things Jay Leno and lust for all things Conan and Letterman blinded you to that fact?

    Who cares? You’re beating a dead horse. After tonight, Conan’s gone, never to be heard from again. Sure, he’ll try something lame with Fox or Comedy Central and you’ll rave about it even though Conan will still be trying too hard.

    It’s over. Your guy lost. Stop being so bitter. Go back to hating “Family Guy.”

    Brian Wallace

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