Late night television marks the end of the day for most people. For me, lying in bed with the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" blaring from my television set has been a tradition since Jay Leno took over for Johnny Carson in 1992.
Jay Leno has always been consistently funnier throughout the years over his contemporaries on other networks. As I grew older, the heat between Leno and his arch nemesis, David Letterman, became hotter when the "Tonight Show" finally beat out Letterman when Leno interviewed Hugh Grant in regard to his rendezvous with Divine Brown.
The infamous question to Grant by Leno, "What the hell were you thinking?" solidified Leno as the new King of Late Night. Leno went on to host the "Tonight Show" until 2009, when NBC's Conan O'Brien took over, pushing Leno to an earlier spot to host a nearly identical show with a different name.
Why did Leno leave the "Tonight" spot?
Even after leading in ratings, it was rumored that after Leno's contract with NBC was going to end, he would jump ship to another network. NBC, however, did not want this to happen, so the network tapped Leno for his own show.
Both Leno and O'Brien failed at their respective timeslots. NBC shuffled Leno's show and offered O'Brien the chance to move his version of "The Tonight Show" to a later slot or the option to leave NBC.
O'Brien decided to leave NBC and Leno reclaimed his seat on the "Tonight Show." Since this happened in 2010, O'Brien signed with TBS.
New King of Late Night
There's no denying that Carson was the original King of Late Night. With Leno being hailed as a bully by some, strong arming O'Brien which resulted in a second chance at the "Tonight Show," the stand-up comedian and so-called nicest guy in Hollywood took a beating in the press.
Leno's ratings took a hit because of all this, but even losing around one million viewers over the course of one season, the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" was still the most watched program on late night.
I don't know Jay Leno personally to honestly say what really happened during the fiasco at NBC. But numbers don't lie and the fact Leno shows up every day to deliver a laugh for millions of people to end their day to proves that he is the best late night host ever. Even over the great Johnny Carson.
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- Johnny Carson
- Jay Leno
- David Letterman
- Late night television