While comedians from Rosie O’Donnell to Patton Oswalt have voiced their antipathy for Jay Leno and his apparent willingness to reclaim The Tonight Show from Conan O’Brien, the most vicious attack on the late night host came, surprisingly enough, on his own show. Former (and possible future) on-air rival Jimmy Kimmel appeared via satellite for Leno’s 10 at 10 spot last night—a strange enough choice after Kimmel’s “cruel impersonation” (in Jay’s words) of Jay on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Instead of patching things up, Kimmel went for the kill. Here’s a few of the jabs:
- “The best prank I ever pulled was I told a guy that, ‘five years from now, I’m gonna give you my show.’ And then when the five years came, I gave it to him, and then I took it back almost instantly.”
- “Strippers, I don’t like in general. Because you have this phony relationship with them for money, similar to that of when you and Conan were on The Tonight Show together, passing the torch. You know what I’m saying.”
- “Listen, Jay, Conan and I have children—all you have to take care of is cars. I mean, we have lives to lead here. You’ve got $800 million, for God’s sakes—leave our shows alone.”
While Leno appeared to laugh off the abuse, NBC exec Dick Ebersol has accused those bashing the soon-to-be-departing-prime-time comedian of “professional jealousy.” “What this is really all about is an astounding failure by Conan,” he told the New York Times, dismissing Conan’s suggestion that no late night show could from the lack of a proper lead-in. “I like Conan enormously personally. He was just stubborn about not being willing to broaden the appeal of his show.” According to Ebersol, Leno never asked to leave The Tonight Show or move to 10pm or move back, and that Leno’s fellow yuksters “[shouldn’t] personally attack someone who hasn’t done anything.” But if Leno decides to take his show back, don’t expect his fellow comedians to run out of hatorade any time soon.