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The Jay Leno Show: Michael Moore

by Danny Gallagher, posted Sep 16th 2009 3:37PM
Jay Leno hosting The Jay Leno ShowThe late night talk show process hasn't been refined in any major way since the early days of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Well there is Carson Daly's show, but I don't count that as a late night talk show ... or a show, for that matter.

You've got your monologue, your one or two comedy bits or sketches and banter with the band and the sidekick, throw in two or three guests, end with a musical performance and you're done. It's comedy by the numbers that works as long as the comedy is funny.

So it's refreshing to see Jay Leno and company retooling the format of the bit, even if the result still screams of the old show. It's also nice to see a show that knows and plays on Leno's strengths and weaknesses as a comedian and a talk show host with the skills of an NFL offensive coordinator, even if it sometimes feels as though that offensive coordinator works for the Detroit Lions.

The strongest part of his shows have always been his monologues. He's a seasoned stand-up comedian who has paid more than his share of dues on the road (the best story are his days touring strip clubs including one named "The Mine Shaft," a pitch black club where patrons had to pay to wear miner helmets to see their share of flesh), and it shows in his monologue. They are simple, precise and funny, and monologues only have to be funny in order for them to work. Even the door knocking segment at the end of the show had a great sense of fun to it, even if some of the bits felt pre-planned and almost shattered the illusion of spontaneity.

The guest comedian spot also works very well. It takes the attention off Jay for a while, lighting the laugh load from his lumbar and giving another up-and-comer a chance to bust their chops on the national stage. Jim Norton's "Uninivited Guest" segment threw me for a bigger loop than the giant lazy-susan he was sitting on that whirled him onto the stage. It let him showcase his very unique sense of humor, which as anyone who listens to Opie and Anthony or saw his awesome HBO special Monster Rain can agree wouldn't earn him an appearance on a late night infomercial on formerly-free TV if it didn't have a filter on it. Even with all the naughty chunks cut out, it was crafted and presented in a way that let Norton be funny without completely erasing the things that make him funny, mainly that he looks and sounds exactly like the kind of guy who you would expect to see being asked to have a seat by Chris Hanssen of Dateline NBC.

The rest of the show went downhill faster than Richard Hammond's Dolomite Sprint trying to complete a handbrake incline test on Mount Killimanjaro. Leno likes talking to guests and asking them about uncomfortable situations, but his interviews have never been very engaging. So the show tried to compensate this by birthing the "Ten@Ten" segment in which he sits down via satellite with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz and asks them 10 pre-written questions. It brought the show to a grinding halt. The whole thing was designed to make the guests squirm and blush with hokey requests for reciting movie lines and sexual performance stats, the latter of which would have been fine ... if he didn't ask them to Tom $&%ing Cruise.

The Michael Moore interview was slightly more engaging, but also felt like setups to easy questions for Moore, who by nature provides the opportunity for an interesting and engaging discussion in a funny way, whether you agree with him or not. Plus, any show that tries to follow a musical performance by Jay-Z, Kanye West and Rihanna with a musical performance by Michael Moore needs more than just their head examined.

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GerryofNorVA

I hope they're using focus groups to gauge "actual" interest because his format ain't working. The "Uninvited Guest" bit was only saved by liberal use of the applause signs. And Michael Moore's movie clip just showed him as a '60s style loon, rabblerousing, while accomplishing nothing.

And how awkward it must've been for Jay, who owns more cars than all of us put together, to hear M Moore label capitalism as "evil" and that the "rich think they can never have enough". How Michael didn't actually say "I'm looking at you, Jay" just shows that even Moore will only go so far.

September 17 2009 at 2:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pjbb

hi im trying to find the name of the book that michael moore read that helped him lose weight.i couldnt catch the name after listening to the interview several times.

September 16 2009 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pjbb's comment
neil

Sounds like he said the Pritikin Solutution, but he must have meant the Pritikin Principle:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/282858/ref=pd_zg_hrsr_b_1_5_last

September 16 2009 at 10:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
More Moore MOhr

I saw this last night and While waiting for Michael Moore's movie "Capitalism, A Love Story" to come out, I found a movie about stock market corruption called "Stock Shock."

It exposes all sorts of stock market corruption. "Stock Shock" follows several Sirius XM investors through their experience of watching their stock go from almost ten dollars a share---down to 5 cents/share. "Stock Shock" suggests this might be due to "naked short selling" and other market manipulation by high rollers on Wall Street. I don't know if I'm a believer, but at least it gives a good review of how our stock markets are engineered. Amazon.com has it and stockshockmovie.com

September 16 2009 at 4:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to More Moore MOhr's comment
Baron

omfg, I just watched the people whine about losing their money in Sirius on that website. What a bunch of middle class losers... I'm sorry, but why would you buy more of a stock just because it goes up? They have no idea how to value anything. And that smug, stupid investment adviser: "Buy whatever you have in your fridge." Yeah, maybe, but he's missing a key piece of investment wisdom: "Buy it at the right price." If you do not bother to do any work to value what it is you are buying and instead rely on past price oscillations in the market value, you are going to lose all of your money. There is no conspiracy, that is the free market.

Imagine this:

The price of bread is $3 yesterday. Today it is $30. Do you buy bread with the expectation to sell it tomorrow for $60? That is what the Sirius investors were doing. Sirius was always overpriced at any value because they have no income, just debt. The only reason an angel investor bothered with Sirius at all (and the only reason it still exists) is because his company OWNS most of that debt, and so they want to make sure Sirius doesn't default. So it will continue to churn along at no profitability until they can repay their debt and then be cast aside. How is this a decent investment? How is this Wall Street manipulation?

September 19 2009 at 6:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ashley

I see where you're coming from about the classic form of the late night talk show- and yes, Leno is a legend but I think a lot of people are looking for something new. For example, I'm 21 years old rarely watch Leno and can't believe he just got picked up on NBC. Maybe his show will last a few more years, but I think as the older audience demographic starts to die off we're gonna need something fresh. Not to mention, think about all the actors and writers that are being put out of jobs with this new emphasis on quick and cheap television programming like talk shows, game shows and reality shows (all of which I find uninteresting).

September 16 2009 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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