I’ve been watching The Tonight Show since Carson was in charge. I loved Johnny Carson and when he retired, I figured the show for a goner. I didn’t want to watch a new host, not even Jay Leno. It’s the Star Trek TOS vs TNG battle all over again. In the end, Leno won me over just like TNG did. So, when Jay announced he was going to retire and Conan was a shoe-in, I really thought I’d switch to Letterman. Then Jay came on at ten; I got the best of both worlds. I gave Conan a chance and –you know what?–he wasn’t half bad. He’s no Leno.
Leno and I have a special relationship. He was on right before they rolled me into the OR when I was in labor with Katie. He was on when I finally came out of my induced coma in the hospital 2 weeks later. His face was the first thing I saw, looming over the respirator. Every night since she was born, we would wake Katie up, change her diaper, feed her, play with her. From the time she was a year old, Katie was aware of Jay and, when he walked out to the stage, his hand held out in a wave to the crowd, she was convinced that he was waving only to her. She waved back. We smiled with pride.
Conan is good, don’t get me wrong. But I want Jay back in that Tonight Show slot. I don’t think Conan had enough time to come into his own and I think NBC gave him a raw deal. They signed a contract with him, made him uproot his family, travel across the country and start fresh. Then they canned him. Personally, I hope Conan takes them for everything he can. But none of that really matters if I get Leno back.
Every time I turned around over the past 17 years or so, Jay Leno was doing something good for somebody. Free concerts, auctioning signed motorcycles, free shows….he never missed an opportunity to help others. He’s a good person. I’ve never heard anything bad about Conan and I suppose he’s a good person. But Jay’s charity is widely publicized.
So, Jay should go right back to where he belongs, hosting the Tonight Show in its original slot. Conan should go on and do something else wonderful, after totally giving NBC the shaft, of course. And NBC should learn how to treat people right. They should stop playing games in the name of ratings and learn to be a stand-up bunch of guys. As for me, I’ll probably keep watching The Tonight Show no matter who’s at the helm, though it’s never as good without Jay.