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Leno Weekly: Paranormal Activity, 2012, Rachael Ray and more!

by Jason Hughes, posted Nov 6th 2009 3:02PM
The Wanda Sykes ShowGood news, everyone! The Jay Leno Show was funny this week. There were some funny guests, genuinely funny comedy correspondent moments, and another Real Housewives quiz show, this time with the ladies from Atlanta.

Jay even managed to get a quick jab in to the bosses at NBC during an archery "Earn Your Plug" with Wanda Sykes. "This is NBC," he said to her. "I'm used to getting shot in the back." I've grown to respect Leno during his 10 o'clock experiment. He's a trouper doing what NBC is paying him to do, but you can tell he thinks the whole situation's about as screwed up as we do.

Even better, there were only two "10 @ 10" segments and no "Green Car Challenge" races, which allowed for more room to bring on Frank Calliendo and Sebastian Maniscalco to do stand-up routines. This is what I was expecting Leno to be doing, showcasing comedy rather than driving around a track trying not to hit Al Gore.

Maybe I'm just cynical, but the fake games and playing back-and-forth kind of gets on my nerves. I prefer it when Leno is truly without a script and forced to fend for himself, which is one of the reasons "Jackass of the Month" really does't work for me. I like Adam Carolla, and I wouldn't even mind him calling out jackasses, but the format of him quizzing Jay and Jay getting it "wrong" every time is a bit silly.

That said, it's still leaps and bounds better than "World Ghost Championships" with Hamish and Andy. Yes, we've seen the Internet videos of people "ghosting" other people while they walk, but to make a long segmen out of it into a tournement is just silly. It's all just so much of the same thing over and over again. Even worse, it's not particularly funny.

What was funny was the return of Tim Stack and "Pumpcast News." I love how people react when they find out the newsman is talking to them. I'd imagine most get what's going on, but some are a little uncomfortable by the whole thing, while others just accept the reality a little too readily. Maybe their newscasters at home talk to them too.

Dan Finnerty was back, too, this time making music videos out of the "Missed Connections" section of Craigslist. I'm with Dan, though, I'm wondering if his segment might be able to create a love connection:

I like how Leno is showing a montage from throughout his guest's careers rather than just their latest project.

I was hoping for a more volatile interview with Biggest Loser castoff Tracey Yukich, but she was a little too prepared for everything he threw at her, and it was disappointingly ordinary. Mariah Carey was kind of a boring interview as well, though I think that segment was supposed to be more about her boobs than anything else. Even Wanda Sykes noticed the attention they were getting.

Once again, Wanda Sykes returned to the show and proved to be pretty funny. She had jokes about Halloween and her twins ... not those twins. Okay, well actually those twins, too.

I haven't seen Jenna Bush Hager in awhile, but I was stunned by how much she looks like an exact combination of her parents. Her eyes and cheeks were so much her mother, but the turns of her smile were totally the former President. She turned out to be a fun interview, and had even more fun doing the '9 @ 9' segment (in honor of the Central Time Zone) with her mother.

Even though he wasn't laugh-out-loud hysterical, I really thought John Cusack was a good interview this week. He got to talk about scary movies, and supernatural encounters, and he did it all with such a dry sense of humor that it was both entertaining and interesting at the same time.

And speaking of supernatural encounters, I got a kick out of how Paranormal Activity's stars were so very new at being on television and doing these interviews. We get so used to the polished celebrities who've done this a million times, that it's fun to see regular people like you and I.

That said, while Katie Featherstone was genuinely just enjoying the experience, I kind of felt like her co-star Micah Sloat was trying a little bit too hard throughout. He was pimping his music and talking about other things he wanted to do in his career and even trying to get more jobs. It's as if he thought is fifteen minutes was almost up and he was desperately scrambling to hang onto ever last drop of it.

10 @ 10
This never happens, but I actually enjoyed the hell out of Rachael Ray's "10 @ 10." Maybe not as much as Rachael did, but it was actually pretty fun from beginning to end.

I already mentioned that I enjoyed both comedians this week. Frank Calliendo seemed really bummed that John Madden has retired, as that's half of his act, but he trotted out plenty of other impressions for us as well like Jay Leno, George W. Bush, Charles Barkley, John Madden, Bill Clinton, Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Shaggy and Scooby.

Sebastian Maniscalco was a little bit of a slow start for me, but once he got into his routine I loved his slow and overly expressive delivery, and really everything about his routine.

Cirque du Soleil's Kooza. This made me think of Little Nemo in Slumberland, only perhaps even more surreal. It also reminded me that Cirque du Soleil likes to hire performers who don't have bones.

The fake "off-the-cuff" interactions reached a boiling point with the Bing Photo Search segment where Jay asked for suggestions from the audience and had plants yell out what he needed. But then, I didn't really think the bizarre "iJay" video worked, with Jay following a writer home to catch his wife cheating on him.

Nor was I particularly impressed with Jay's Halloween costumes, candy and games. By the time he got to the gravestone hurling eggs at his caramel-covered neighbor, I was done. Luckily, so was the show that night.

In fact, the only of these extra segments that worked was "Battle of the Celebrity All-Stars." As I mentioned, it was The Real Housewives of Atlanta this time, and it's nice to see that there's rampant idiocy on all these shows. You know, there are some very sharp housewives out there. How come none of them are on these Housewives shows? Does the application require you to be a trophy wife? The only one who had anything going on upstairs was Kandi. It was hopeless for both Lisa and Kim.

Of course, there's always humor to be found in "Headlines":
  • "Congressman will continue to campaign if not sent to jail"
  • "Jobs remain the best insurance against unemployment"
  • "Used 2 D batteries (one included)"
  • "Lose height now" [instead of weight]
  • "Tired of working for only $9/hour? ... Starting pay: $6-$8 per hour"
  • "Your friends will puke with envy!" [real estate ad]
  • "Cash accepted with proper ID"

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Where is the review on the Wanda Sykes show?? I guess tired ol' Leno is more important than a fresh new perspective on FOX...

November 10 2009 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched it for the first time last night (wanda and rachel were on) and i found it uncomfortable to watch because it was SO BAD. The pump news was ok but it was so ackward to watch wanda and jay (except for the arrow thing) and Rachel Ray goes on and on and on... I will try very hard not to watch this show again.

November 06 2009 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to colleen's comment
Eric H

Why do you have to try hard not to watch a show, does your tv control itself and force you to watch.

November 06 2009 at 5:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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