On Thursday, NBC and Conan O’Brien finally reached a deal
that will see him leave “The Tonight Show,” which won’t end all the late-night jokes about the debacle but may well put a damper on them — at least from O’Brien himself since his last show is Friday. It’s been an entertaining couple weeks that gave Jay Leno, O’Brien and other comics plenty of material.
Here are what we believe to be the Top 5 comic segments that have come out of the controversy, with video below. For the handful out there not in the know, Leno is poised to reclaim his job hosting “The Tonight Show” in a move that will bump out O’Brien.
1. On Jan. 12, Jimmy Kimmel impersonated Leno during his own late-night show on ABC, showing up with a big prosthetic chin and gray hair to look just like the NBC veteran. “Hello, my name is Jay Leno. And let it hereby be known that I’m taking over all the shows in late-night,” Kimmel said. Later on, comedian Chevy Chase came out dressed like O’Brien for more yuks.
2. Later in the week, Kimmel appeared via satellite feed on “The Jay Leno Show,” in an awkward interview led by none other than Leno himself. During the interview, Kimmel was asked what was the best prank he ever pulled. His response told little about himself, but more about the recent history of Leno and O’Brien, at least from Kimmel’s jaded perspective. Kimmel said, “I told a guy that ‘five years from now, I’m going to give you my show.’ And then I took it back almost instantly. I think he works at Fox or something now.” To that, Leno just laughed and moved on to the next question.
3. On the “Late Show” on Jan. 13, David Letterman gave his “Top 10 Messages Left on Jeff Zucker’s Voice Mail.” Of course, Zucker is the head of NBC Universal, and the executive at the center of the controversy over Leno and O’Brien. Some of the jokes on Letterman’s list of supposed phone messages on Zucker’s answering machine were, “What the hell are you doing?” “Hi, it’s Burt Reynolds. Just so you know I’m available” and “What the Zuck?”
4. Conan O’Brien subjected NBC to plenty of biting sarcasm on his show, but perhaps the funniest joke came on Tuesday, when he said that even though NBC is reportedly muzzling him, “nobody said anything about speaking in Spanish.” O’Brien went on to say in the romance language, “NBC is run by brainless sons of goats who eat money and crap trouble.”
5. Jay Leno weighed in on the controversy from the stage of his show on Jan. 16, saying “I’m getting beat up in the press … you know it’s bad when Tiger Woods calls to offer PR advice.” Then he added, “Even Dave Letterman is taking shots at me, usually he’s just taking shots at interns.” That last one, of course, was a reference to Letterman’s admitted sexual liaisons with members of his staff.
With zingers like that, things got ugly fast in this latest full contact flare-up in late night television. What would Johnny Carson