There are few things David Letterman seems to enjoy more than a good joke at the expense of Jay Leno, and today’s confirmation that Leno is set to hand over “The Tonight Show” to Jimmy Fallon in 2014 is just adding more grist to the mill.
“I got a call from my mom today, she says, ‘Well, David, I see you didn’t get the ‘Tonight Show’ again,'” Letterman jokes during the monologue for the “Late Show” airing tonight (April 3) and taped earlier today.
Letterman was vicious — and hilarious — during the memorable drama that erupted in 2009 after Conan O’Brien took over “The Tonight Show,” only to lose it once Leno returned a few months later. Letterman couldn’t help but reference that situation again: “It seems like we just went through this. Didn’t we just go through this? Jay Leno now is being replaced, and this is the second time this has happened. I mean, it’s crazy. He’s being replaced by a younger late night talk show host — what could possibly go wrong? Honestly. They had pretty good luck with this in the past.”
“But NBC, God bless ’em, announced the official date for Jay Leno’s departure — no mention of his official date of return, however.”
And Letterman got in a two-for-one crack at both Leno’s future and NBC’s ratings woes: “I happen to know Jay’s got another job on network that has greater viewership, higher ratings — Univision. He’s going there.”
Here’s a preview of tonight’s “Late Show” Top 10:
TOP TEN THINGS WE’LL MISS ABOUT JAY LENO
5. If you broke down on the freeway, Jay was always right there with a camera crew to help.
4. Can’t remember the name of the bit, but it’s the one where Jay is walking.
3. He’s mom’s favorite talk show host.
Letterman’s post-monologue commentary:
“Now earlier today, NBC announced that Jimmy Fallon will take over for Jay Leno as host of the ‘Tonight Show’ in February of 2014. This is — something’s wrong here. This happened once before with Conan O’Brien, and then they had to bring Jay back, and so he had to start his show all over again, and now it looks like the same thing is happening. And I just — I don’t get this. He’s retiring, so it says, and good for him. I’ve known him 38 years. I’ve known Jay Leno for 38 years, thank you. I don’t know what aspect of that you’re applauding, but thank you … So now he’s out again, but going out on top. So congratulations to Jay, a job well done. And, I mean, how many times can a guy be pushed out of the job, I mean. And what’s the matter with NBC? What’s the matter with these guys? You know, honestly, what are they thinking…?
“…And, as with everything in life, all I really care about is how will this affect me? That’s all I really care about. And, Paul, is there any way NBC can push me out of this job? Can they do that? I don’t know … So, here’s what it’s going to be, Paul. It’s going to be you and me and two guys named Jimmy. Right there, that’s not right. No, no, right now, we have a Jay, we have a Jimmy, we have a Dave. Oh, forget that. In February, kiss that goodbye — Jimmy, Jimmy, Dave … But good luck to Jay. I know he’ll be out on the road, getting it done and taking care of business and congratulations on a nice long run there at the ‘Tonight Show,’ if in fact you’re not coming back.”