Jay Leno was just on too early

Jay Leno Cancelled, Conan Comtemplating Split | TheHDRoom.  NBC’s plan to save money on scripted shows by moving Leno to prime-time didn’t work.  Now the network wants to move him back to late night, to the consternation of Conan O’Brien–who, as Leno’s replacement on the  Tonight Show,is also having ratings woes–and Jimmy Falloon, who is on even later.

This doesn’t surprise me.  Leno is very funny, but you have to be up late past your bedtime his humor to have its full effect.  The same holds true for the other late night comedians, some of whom need to be on really, really  late before they can even seem mildly amusing.  When you are well-rested and in your right mind, they tend to  fall flat.

What do you think should happen?  Conan is considering stomping off and going to FOX.   If they were all on at the same time, would you rather watch Leno, O’Brien, or Letterman?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Josh V

    I prefer Leno. Letterman has never been that funny to me. O’Brien’s humor, while funny at times, seems to be straining for a reaction. Leno’s jokes are not always funny, but I have found myself laughing more when watching his monologues and skits than the others.

  • Josh V

    I prefer Leno. Letterman has never been that funny to me. O’Brien’s humor, while funny at times, seems to be straining for a reaction. Leno’s jokes are not always funny, but I have found myself laughing more when watching his monologues and skits than the others.

  • Eric G

    I admit that I haven’t watched anyone for a few years. But if given the choice, I’d choose to watch Conan. His show was brilliant in the early days when Andy Richter was still on, and I just love his type of humor.

    Letterman used to be great back in the days when he was still on Late Night, after Johnny. But the show lost something when it moved to CBS and then just became unfunny the past five years.

  • Eric G

    I admit that I haven’t watched anyone for a few years. But if given the choice, I’d choose to watch Conan. His show was brilliant in the early days when Andy Richter was still on, and I just love his type of humor.

    Letterman used to be great back in the days when he was still on Late Night, after Johnny. But the show lost something when it moved to CBS and then just became unfunny the past five years.

  • Purple Kooaid

    I refuse to watch Letterman after his pot-shots at Sarah Palin’s daughter. Just wrong.

    I’d vote for Conan. To me, Leno’s humor is better for old people..

  • Purple Kooaid

    I refuse to watch Letterman after his pot-shots at Sarah Palin’s daughter. Just wrong.

    I’d vote for Conan. To me, Leno’s humor is better for old people..

  • http://farnham.tumblr.com Will

    Conan hands down. However, if Craig Ferguson ever moved to an earlier time slot, he’d be the clear winner. He’s the strongest comedian of the bunch, and you can’t beat that accent.

  • http://farnham.tumblr.com Will

    Conan hands down. However, if Craig Ferguson ever moved to an earlier time slot, he’d be the clear winner. He’s the strongest comedian of the bunch, and you can’t beat that accent.

  • Jeremy Larson

    Leno. Ferguson is hilarious, but is more crass.

  • Jeremy Larson

    Leno. Ferguson is hilarious, but is more crass.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Conan was set up to fail, with the split of the Late-night mix. I would prefer to watch Conan, and I think he should split for greener pastures. NBC should use Leno to re-solidify its Late Night spot for the short term and look for new talent. Jimmy Falon is funny only in very small quantities. Craig F.’s accent bugs me. I have a hard time listening to him, sometimes I have found him to be funny though.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Conan was set up to fail, with the split of the Late-night mix. I would prefer to watch Conan, and I think he should split for greener pastures. NBC should use Leno to re-solidify its Late Night spot for the short term and look for new talent. Jimmy Falon is funny only in very small quantities. Craig F.’s accent bugs me. I have a hard time listening to him, sometimes I have found him to be funny though.

  • Joe

    I think Craig Ferguson is really funny but on too late. Leno, Letterman and Fallon are just boring and Conan is hit or miss.

  • Joe

    I think Craig Ferguson is really funny but on too late. Leno, Letterman and Fallon are just boring and Conan is hit or miss.

  • http://katiesbeer.piperblogs.org/ Theresa K.

    Craig Ferguson!

  • http://katiesbeer.piperblogs.org/ Theresa K.

    Craig Ferguson!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I think this is more of a demographic vote than anything. I’ll bet most people choosing Conan are under, say, 40. And most people choosing Leno are, say, over 40.

    I haven’t watched any of them in years, but I’d pick Conan because, when he’s funny, he’s laugh-out-loud hilarious. When Leno is funny, I usually give a few chuckles.

    I think Conan is the most clever of them all (cf. the Simpsons seasons when he was a writer), but by that same token, his comedy (which often is a kind of anti-comedic shtick) isn’t going to be the most popular. Genial pabulum always wins the popular vote.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I think this is more of a demographic vote than anything. I’ll bet most people choosing Conan are under, say, 40. And most people choosing Leno are, say, over 40.

    I haven’t watched any of them in years, but I’d pick Conan because, when he’s funny, he’s laugh-out-loud hilarious. When Leno is funny, I usually give a few chuckles.

    I think Conan is the most clever of them all (cf. the Simpsons seasons when he was a writer), but by that same token, his comedy (which often is a kind of anti-comedic shtick) isn’t going to be the most popular. Genial pabulum always wins the popular vote.

  • James Hageman

    My vote: Burn Notice. Then repeats of Burn Notice. Then DVDs of Burn Notice.

  • James Hageman

    My vote: Burn Notice. Then repeats of Burn Notice. Then DVDs of Burn Notice.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Interesting how Christians follow such insecure characters as Conan and Leno in an attempt to be with it.
    Basically, they are both rather insecure secularists, humorless in a secular way.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Interesting how Christians follow such insecure characters as Conan and Leno in an attempt to be with it.
    Basically, they are both rather insecure secularists, humorless in a secular way.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@11), it’s okay to admit you don’t get their jokes. It doesn’t make you less of a man.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Peter (@11), it’s okay to admit you don’t get their jokes. It doesn’t make you less of a man.

  • http://katiesbeer.piperblogs.org/ Theresa K.

    Peter,

    Maybe that’s why I like Craig Ferguson so much: he’s sincerely funny, though sometimes crass. He refuses to be politically correct and he’s unabashedly a very proud naturalized American citizen (talks about it frequently). His humor is not for the easily offended, but it’s never insulting either.

  • http://katiesbeer.piperblogs.org/ Theresa K.

    Peter,

    Maybe that’s why I like Craig Ferguson so much: he’s sincerely funny, though sometimes crass. He refuses to be politically correct and he’s unabashedly a very proud naturalized American citizen (talks about it frequently). His humor is not for the easily offended, but it’s never insulting either.

  • http://katiesbeer.piperblogs.org/ Theresa K.

    And YES, it’s nearly impossible to stay up to watch. I always record it and watch while I make supper.

    Did I mention he sings, is a musician and does very funny musical numbers, not unlike the old Drew Carey show? Love his charm, humor, smile, patriotism, honesty, accent (hey, I watch WITH my hubby)and love the opening and his theme song:

    The Late Late Show Theme Song
    Written by Craig Ferguson

    It’s hard to stay up
    It’s been a long, long day
    And you got the sandman at the door
    But hang on, leave the TV on
    And let’s do it anyway
    It’s ok
    You can always sleep through work tomorrow, OK?
    Hey hey
    Tomorrow’s just your future yesterday

  • http://katiesbeer.piperblogs.org/ Theresa K.

    And YES, it’s nearly impossible to stay up to watch. I always record it and watch while I make supper.

    Did I mention he sings, is a musician and does very funny musical numbers, not unlike the old Drew Carey show? Love his charm, humor, smile, patriotism, honesty, accent (hey, I watch WITH my hubby)and love the opening and his theme song:

    The Late Late Show Theme Song
    Written by Craig Ferguson

    It’s hard to stay up
    It’s been a long, long day
    And you got the sandman at the door
    But hang on, leave the TV on
    And let’s do it anyway
    It’s ok
    You can always sleep through work tomorrow, OK?
    Hey hey
    Tomorrow’s just your future yesterday

  • DonS a la tODD

    I don’t watch any of them anymore, but I agree with the sentiments above. Conan is the funniest when he is on, but he often is not on. I think he is too quirky to ever have a truly big audience, of the type Carson had in the old days. I used to love Letterman back in the 80′s, but he has become an old, liberal crank. Plus, I know to much about his “backstage demeanor” now. Leno is comfortable and often funny, but not hilarious. Definitely the class of the three. However, I don’t understand why NBC ever thought Leno could pull down prime-time acceptable ratings five days per week doing a late night show. They deserve the conundrum they are now in.

  • DonS a la tODD

    I don’t watch any of them anymore, but I agree with the sentiments above. Conan is the funniest when he is on, but he often is not on. I think he is too quirky to ever have a truly big audience, of the type Carson had in the old days. I used to love Letterman back in the 80′s, but he has become an old, liberal crank. Plus, I know to much about his “backstage demeanor” now. Leno is comfortable and often funny, but not hilarious. Definitely the class of the three. However, I don’t understand why NBC ever thought Leno could pull down prime-time acceptable ratings five days per week doing a late night show. They deserve the conundrum they are now in.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@15), that sounds more like you than “me”. (Actually, we’re in nearly complete agreement on this issue — let’s celebrate! — but it didn’t seem like you were trying to sound like me, regardless.) Perhaps it’s time to change back to your old handle? :)

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Don (@15), that sounds more like you than “me”. (Actually, we’re in nearly complete agreement on this issue — let’s celebrate! — but it didn’t seem like you were trying to sound like me, regardless.) Perhaps it’s time to change back to your old handle? :)

  • DonS

    tODD:

    Sorry about that :-) I forgot to update my handle after yesterday’s debacle. It’s fixed now.

  • DonS

    tODD:

    Sorry about that :-) I forgot to update my handle after yesterday’s debacle. It’s fixed now.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17639370291865261582 Cindy R.

    I consider Conan the best of the three by far. Who knew staring contests and a flashlight with a green filter could be so funny? I enjoy Ivy League comics – Conan is from Harvard, and I also like Demetri Martin, a Yale guy with a Comedy Central show.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17639370291865261582 Cindy R.

    I consider Conan the best of the three by far. Who knew staring contests and a flashlight with a green filter could be so funny? I enjoy Ivy League comics – Conan is from Harvard, and I also like Demetri Martin, a Yale guy with a Comedy Central show.

  • http://pilgrimnotwanderer.com Ed
  • http://pilgrimnotwanderer.com Ed
  • http://watersblogged.blogspot.com Rev. Bob Waters

    Conan, and after him Ferguson, with reservations caused by the crassness of each.

  • http://watersblogged.blogspot.com Rev. Bob Waters

    Conan, and after him Ferguson, with reservations caused by the crassness of each.

  • Economist Doug

    I used to like Tom Snyder on the Late Late Show before he retired. Used to watch him with my grandmother. Since that I’ve not found any of them worth staying up for. Leno is mildly amusing.

    Conan just strikes me as an unfunny weirdo.
    Ferguson is humorous but too crass.
    Letterman strikes me as a pompous windbag.

  • Economist Doug

    I used to like Tom Snyder on the Late Late Show before he retired. Used to watch him with my grandmother. Since that I’ve not found any of them worth staying up for. Leno is mildly amusing.

    Conan just strikes me as an unfunny weirdo.
    Ferguson is humorous but too crass.
    Letterman strikes me as a pompous windbag.

  • http://www.ifyoucouldreadmymind.wordpress.com Lisa R.

    Leno was much funnier before he put on a suit (recalling his biker shtick on Letterman in years past.) Now he’s predictable and less effective. The funniest thing about O’Brien is his hair, and Letterman usually looks bored (10 Places I’d Rather Be Right Now!) Perhaps the best offering from any of these three is the occasional “Jay-Walking” episodes from Leno, which are simultaneously dropped-jaw hilarious and frightening!

    I do find Ferguson fresher and less weighed down by self-consciousness, and yes, Theresa @14, he’s got a killer smile!

    All that said, I don’t typically watch much TV.

  • http://www.ifyoucouldreadmymind.wordpress.com Lisa R.

    Leno was much funnier before he put on a suit (recalling his biker shtick on Letterman in years past.) Now he’s predictable and less effective. The funniest thing about O’Brien is his hair, and Letterman usually looks bored (10 Places I’d Rather Be Right Now!) Perhaps the best offering from any of these three is the occasional “Jay-Walking” episodes from Leno, which are simultaneously dropped-jaw hilarious and frightening!

    I do find Ferguson fresher and less weighed down by self-consciousness, and yes, Theresa @14, he’s got a killer smile!

    All that said, I don’t typically watch much TV.

  • http://watersblogged.blogspot.com Rev. Bob Waters

    I’ve seen this comment somewhere, and I agree with it: when Conan is “on,” he is utterly hysterical. But sometimes he’s not “on.” I’m willing to sort of coast with him at such times because I find him so likeable.

    I frankly find Ferguson weirder than Conan. But that’s ok. Weirdness is good.

  • http://watersblogged.blogspot.com Rev. Bob Waters

    I’ve seen this comment somewhere, and I agree with it: when Conan is “on,” he is utterly hysterical. But sometimes he’s not “on.” I’m willing to sort of coast with him at such times because I find him so likeable.

    I frankly find Ferguson weirder than Conan. But that’s ok. Weirdness is good.


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