The Long, Dark Tonight Show Of The Soul

February 11, 2014


During his time as host of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno made 4,607 jokes about Bill Clinton, 795 jokes about OJ Simpson, 505 jokes about Michael Jackson, and 454 jokes about Monica Lewinsky. – Finding by the Center for Media And Public Affairs

Hour 1 – Alright!  Got a job!  Cataloging Leno’s jokes won’t change the world, I suppose, but getting paid to just watch comedy?  This is going to be great!  It’ll be fun to see how he’s aged and changed.

Hour 4 – Turns out I just watched the wrong tape.  I was supposed to be watching 1993 and it was 1998.  I didn’t even notice until I realized Ross Perot hadn’t come up in a while.

Hour 9 – You know, dude, OJ did kill two people.

Leno, circa 1996.  Or possibly 2002.  Or 2010.

Leno, circa 1996. Or possibly 2002. Or 2010.

Hour 12 – Did I already watch this one?  I swear I’ve heard this.  I’d check but I don’t dare go backwards.

Hour 14 – I feel strangely hung over.  Sleeping last night, the blanket came off me, and Kevin Eubanks kept saying, “That’s cold.  That’s cold.  That’s cold.”

Hour 17 – I think my eyes have gone numb. Is that a thing?  Does that happen? Does anyone know? D’ja hear about this?  Eyes going numb?  D’ja hear about that?

Hour 18 – Wow.  Just passed 1,200 Bill Clinton jokes.  Surely we must be about done with those, though, right?


Hour 23 – Oh, Christ, the Lorena Bobbit thing just happened.  I’m going to need some whiskey for this gauntlet.

Hour 29 – How much am I getting paid for this?

Hour 34 – Ahhhhh. George W. Bush jokes.  Thank god.  It’s like I’ve been washed clean.

Hour 38 – AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  He just said that Al Gore’s blaming Michael Jackson’s skin-whitening on GLOBAL WARMING!  It’s funny on SO MANY LEVELS.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Maybe he should take it before Judge Ito!  HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

Hour 42 – All Clinton and no Bobbit make Jay a dull OJ.  All Clinton and no Bobbit make Jay a dull OJ.  All Clinton and no Bobbit make Jay a dull OJ.  All Clinton and no Bobbit make Jay a dull OJ.  All Clinton and no Bobbit make Jay a dull OJ.  All Clinton and no Bobbit make Jay a dull OJ.  All Clinton and no Bobbit make Jay a dull OJ.

Vladimir and Estragon wait for the Lewinsky jokes to end.

Vladimir and Estragon wait for the Lewinsky jokes to end.

Hour 51 – Humor.  It is an illusion.  A vagary of forced optimism in the face of meaningless banality.  Do I laugh because there is order to the universe? Because there is only chaos and I see it?  Or because  the set-up, beat, punch and audience laughing to the sign that tells them to declares that I must?  Only the slave’s laugh is real, for he at least knows he is a slave.

Hour 52 – You know what I could go for?  A quesadilla.  Mmmmm.  Quesadilla.

Hour 53 – Please stop telling the same jokes! I’m begging you!  I’m begging you!  I can no longer understand the passage of time!  I’ve forgotten my name!  I can smell colors!  I can’t produce saliva!

Hour 56 – It’s done.  It is done.  I shall turn in these numbers and be free. And the world will know. And they will thank me.  And I will make a mental note to find a different job before Letterman retires.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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39 Comments on “The Long, Dark Tonight Show Of The Soul”

  1. BrainRants Says:

    Because yeah, who sits and tallies this shit up?


  2. rachelocal Says:

    So are you going to count how many times Jimmy Fallon giggles or sings/raps?


  3. Sandra Says:

    Hour 51 and 53, love it! Thanks for the laughter. Sorry it was at your expense.


  4. She's a Maineiac Says:

    Now that is a job no one could ever pay me enough to do. I can barely watch Leno in 10 second sound bites without my eyes twitching.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Yeah, I can’t imagine trying to be fresh and funny 5 nights a week, and laugh at inane, controlled stories about how much everyone in Hollywood gets along… but… Carson did it. Conan does it.


  5. Exile on Pain Street Says:

    I wonder what that job paid? Aside from an almost unending stream of side-splitting laughter?

    A gold star for the Godot reference. Totally appropriate. Well played.


  6. Elyse Says:

    It’s been a long time since Leno was funny. And then I pretty much think he was funny just because I wanted him to be.

    I don’t think there will be late night repeats of his shows like there are with Johnny. So apparently this job of yours was a one time gig in purgatory.


  7. rossmurray1 Says:

    Hour 42 is the best because, you know, “He-e-e-re’s Johnny!”


  8. Snoring Dog Studio Says:

    It’s been a long, long time since I could stay up to watch any late TV, no matter how funny the dude or dudess is. I watched Johnny Carson because my Dad did – though Carson was a genius. I’ll bet that Leno is at least a bit relieved to be gone. And now comes his memoir.


  9. thefoodandwinehedonist Says:

    So true on so many different levels. Have a sinking feeling Fallon will also be Leno’d.


  10. Sarah Day Says:

    Another beautiful example of why it’s called work. Even too much of a “good” thing can kill you. (Think hotdog eating contest.)


  11. Twindaddy Says:

    Was the actually a time when Leno was funny?


  12. Remediator Says:

    No one can retain their humanity while doing five ‘creative’ shows a week. Just ask Jack Paar.


  13. mistyslaws Says:

    Fallon’s will be a tally of him giggling and appearances by Justin Timberlake. Now, THAT I could watch. Let’s just hope Jay is retiring for good. I can’t bear to watch Jimmy be Conan’d.


  14. Go Jules Go Says:

    OMG I make amazing quesadillas. Wait. Was that not the message here?


  15. battlewagon13 Says:

    I’m just glad he’s gone. Never liked the guy.


  16. tomwisk Says:

    B.M., the Super Bowl is over, Leno is leaving, let go of it already. It’snot that important.


  17. 1pointperspective Says:

    On an unrelated note, Maxwell Smart said “Sorry about that, Chief” 247 times throughout the brief history of “Get Smart”, and Jethro Bodine said “Double ought spy” 41 times during the Beverly Hillbillies. These are entirely fictitious numbers, but every bit as relevant.


  18. Deli Lanoux, Ed.D. Says:

    “And I will make a mental note to find a different job before Letterman retires.”

    Priceless. And hilarious.


  19. pegoleg Says:

    And the really funny part is “The Center for Media And Public Affairs” is a governmental agency. Wonder what the Civil Service exam for THAT post looked like?


  20. Karen Says:

    This seems like a dream job! Just pick some numbers! Who’s going to question whether there were 454 or 627 Lewinsky jokes?

    I remember thinking Jay Leno was a perfect choice to replace Johnny. Such a funny guy! I’ve seen about five combined minutes of the show since then.


  21. Maggie O'C Says:

    Oddly enough, the second post I’ve read today with a Waiting for Godot reference.

    It’s a relief that I never liked Leno, knowing what I know now.


  22. silkpurseproductions Says:

    You have to find a way out of this job before Letterman retires. I am already asking every night, “Did we see this already? Didn’t he just use that joke? Was that supposed to be the joke? Was that the punchline?”.
    Wasn’t his show clever once?


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