Last October Jay Leno “tagged in” during the monologue on an episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. It was a fleeting flashback to why we never watched The Tonight Show all those years, instead of the typical nightly reminder of why we don’t watch The Tonight Show today. We’re saying Leno’s not funny.
They pulled the trick again last night, with Fallon ceding the stage to his predecessor for another round of limp political jokes that would’ve felt old and forced two decades ago. The saddest thing about this is you can’t really tell any difference between the weak Fallon material that starts the clip and Leno’s stuff. There are some great, smart comedians and writers on Fallon’s staff, and it’s troubling that the jokes they write for Fallon are about on the same level as a guy who ran dry when Night Court was still on the air. And clearly retirement hasn’t helped Leno rediscover the legitimate talent he lost at some point in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s.
If you’re nostalgic for the Tonight Show of your post-Carson youth, watch the clip above and reflect on the crushing weight of time.