Five reasons why Jay Leno should be Conan O'Brien's final Tonight Show guest
by Danny Gallagher, posted Jan 20th 2010 9:00AM
The Tonight Show has a handsome list of throwback guests, Will Ferrell and Tom Hanks who were the first and second guests when Conan O'Brien took over, on what is presumed to be his last show this Friday. Seriously, they still haven't resolved this thing. Say what you will about the dunderheads-in-chief at NBC, but at least they are consistent at failing.
And while it is nice to remind the audience and the network of the heavy hitters that Conan will have in his corner when he bids his former employer farewell, I'd like to see him take it one step further. Conan O'Brien should have Jay Leno (yes THAT Jay Leno, is there another?) as his final guest.
Sure, it sounds like a bigger pipe dream than mounting a Van Halen reunion tour with the undead corpse of Jimi Hendrix as the opening act, but here's five reasons why it would not only make sense for another small chapter of The Tonight Show dynasty, but for the television dynasty as a whole.
1. It would prove that Jay Leno is not the bad guy
Maybe I'm just a naive little bastard, but I honestly believe it's not Jay's fault that Conan will no longer have The Tonight Show. Sure the network backed Jay and only backed Coco into a corner forcing him to uphold the show's 60-plus-year honor by bowing out early. Business is business. You can always whack a guy on the back of the head in the Octogon and still toss back a few pints at the bar afterwards until the bleeding subsides. And the best way Jay can prove it is by wishing Conan the best as Conan hands back the reins of a show that Jay handed to him just seven months ago. Certainly, no one would "blame" either of them.
2. The awkward squirming would turn the comedy up to 11
If you're a fan of tense situational comedy like The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm, then a five minute sit-down between Jay and Conan would be like an orgasmic mutation of those shows with an after-hint of the Jim Cramer/Jon Stewart melee. So when you put two funny guys with something to beef about in a room together, they obey the law of comedy gravity: the awkwardness that drives them apart will eventually pull them together and make for great comedy. And if the two happen to overcome a basic law of entertainment physics, then...
3. There is a chance a fight might break out
Jay and Conan might be two nice guys who only strive to bring laughter and happiness into the world, but even a nice guy can go full-on "Scrappy Doo" when you prod him with a pitchfork more than 67 times in a row. Late night talk shows make their mark with unexpected, sometimes tense moments. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to get hurt, but the room would be on the sharpest pins and needles and a simple wink, nod or look could turn a single moment into a keg of nitrate-infused gun powder just waiting for a spark that could make a Maury Povich cat fight look like a game of armless "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots." The best part is any chance of physical blows would be replaced with that time-honored slice of true comic ammunition: pies.
4. Technically, the old host is supposed to hand off The Tonight Show to the new host
Handing off a talk show to the new guy is a time honored late night tradition and if protocol serves correct, Conan is supposed to hand off the show to the new host, which is technically Jay. Sure it doesn't make much sense, but tradition isn't supposed to make sense! Besides, just watching Conan on the right side of the screen and Jay on the left would just make for an awesome "bizarro world" moment that would make my next viewing of Eraserhead feel like an episode of Teletubbies on 12 ounces of Absynthe. And don't ask me how I know the exact hallucinogenic conversions of Absynthe to David Lynch films. Just take my word for it.
5. Some big time, ultimate cage match, double tag team trash talking against Jeff Zucker and NBC
Gag orders be damned. Just imagine the kind of ridiculing and ribbing that could be accomplish when Jay "Crimson Chin" Leno and Conan "The Barb Barbarian" O'Brien join forces to fight the real enemy. Both Jay and Conan have been taking more than their fair share of shots at the big wigs who have turned their entire late night lineup into media mulch and deservedly so. Jeff Zucker and company are the Evil League of Evil of all of television who seek to express their disdain for all of humanity through their thoughts, words and deeds, minus the tight fitting spandex uniforms... that we know of.