September 15, 2009

new show review: the jay leno show

The Jay Leno Show premiered last night. I don't plan to watch, but I was curious to see the first episode. As much as NBC promoted a fresh comedy format at 10:00, it's really just Jay's Tonight Show an hour earlier.

There's no doubt, Jay Leno is a pro. He's been hosting for decades now, so he's completely comfortable on stage. He's a friendly, likable guy who tells topical jokes. If you like that, then you get to hold onto it for another season (at least). Kevin Eubanks is back as well - his music is great and his laugh is reliable as ever.

As someone who could take or leave Jay's Tonight Show depending on the guest, I'm not seeing anything new to keep me coming back. The opening monologue is exactly the same. Like I said, Jay can deliver a joke, but it's just not my kind of comedy. This was followed by Jay bringing out "one of the guys from The Hangover" who turned out to be the wedding singer from the final scene. Call me crazy, but I was hoping for Zach. Cut to a pre-taped segment with this guy singing at a carwash, which I didn't find funny at all. This was the best they could do for the first episode?

The guest segment is a little more casual - two chairs rather than a desk and a couch. Jay plans to have a variety of guests that will spend more time with him and talk comedy, rather than a parade of celebs plugging their latest project. Jerry Seinfeld was the first guest. This was my favorite part - you really can't go wrong with two veteran comedians bouncing off each other. You're bound to laugh eventually. Oprah also made a cameo via satellite.

The next segment was a sliced mock interview with President Obama. This format is slightly overdone now, with Jon Stewart really mastering it, but it's still good for a few laughs.
Jay made it a point to say how a daily show allows them to really keep the content current - all of this before introducing Kanye West for a brief interview to talk about "the incident" at the VMAs on Sunday. If you live in a hole, Kanye walked on stage during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech, took her mic away, and told the world that Beyonce was robbed.

Kanye was already scheduled to perform with Jay-Z and Rihanna, and his media machine obviously jumped at the chance for him to redeem himself on national television. He sat down with Jay for about 5 minutes of extremely awkward questions. Look, Jay is not Diane Sawyer. Asking questions about what Kanye's mom would have thought about his actions was just awkward - not to mention Kanye sitting there in silence staring at the ground for 2 minutes.

I hate to say it, but I have a strange feeling that the entire thing was orchestrated by Kanye, including the VMAs and subsequent apologies. Kanye's main message to Jay was that he didn't take the necessary time off after his mom's passing to grieve, and he needs to disappear for a while. Why does it feel like he's manufacturing a "comeback"? He suffered a terrible loss, and I do think he deserves a break. I just hope this isn't a stunt.

The interview is followed by a performance of Jay-Z's new song with Rihanna and Kanye. This is the highlight for me. Jay-Z can do no wrong.

Jay wraps up the show with headlines, which they're saving for the end as a strong lead in to local news. Really? I can get funnier clips on fail blog every day.

Jay, I like you. I just wish you didn't take 10:00 away from other potential programming on NBC. Sorry, I won't be watching.


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