Jay Leno’s Prime Time Show Experiment Flops

I am glad I am not the only one thinking this, but yet my initial reaction was “why are they recreating his incarnation of the Tonight Show an hour earlier?”. Ugh. The same old slow humor? The jokes you really have to stretch, strain and reach for? More not really funny headlines? More lame monologue jokes? Ugh…Click-Off, delete from DVR.

mid century modern house overlook california jay leno show set

this would be a more appropriate set for a late night show from California

I’m not of the prime Jay Leno age audience (I’m 33) but I am pretty sure that the people who collectively voted Jay Leno into office on the Tonight show many years ago are 55+ now and not looking for change. That must be why this is the exact same show, with the same band, the same lame bits and a new set. And the Oprah bit was kind of lame and the CGI used for the TV in the picture looked really fake. And they need a fireplace or something behind the 2 chairs on the stage to make it more like a comfy living room conversation and less like some window to Hollywood lights on that ridiculous over the top backdrop. How about a view of the Ocean? The beautiful scenic cliffs overlooking the ocean in one of those all glass mid-century modern houses would be a cool look.

I think we yearn for something fresh and new and look to see Jay do something unscripted for once. I actually kind of liked the way he was asking Kanye some tough interview questions like Diane Sawyer would do or Charles Gibson.  (although the one about Kanye’s mom was below the belt)  I also enjoyed the car wash sing and dance number for its impromptu serenading of an unsuspecting (or maybe not) girl at the car wash. (although the sex jokes in the song were a bit too much at that hour).

I think we want to see something outside the realm of a studio scripted variety show and more of an impromptu (reality based?) type of variety show. And let things happen as they may when set up for some kind of interaction on stage. Jay is actually funny on an improv basis when NBC lets him. I think we want to see more of Jay’s actual personality. We know little about him that is real and compelling because he has been behind all these writers for all these years. We’d like to get to know him better as a person and a presenter on this show, and it doesn’t have to be all comedy bits all the time. Think about what the variety/chat  show could be when you open up the boundaries.

I would like to see a little more Jonathan Ross and Jeremy Clarkson and that Parkinson guy style in the UK influence on this show, since it’s no longer late night. (with or without a 3 walled green room) Be silly, be open, interact with the audience, run around outside the studio, bring new people in as writers, with an improv background. And interact with people online about the show and take the online interaction into the show itself. Think more Ellen and less Oprah. Think more Jon Stewart and less Rod Stewart. More Letterman ok less Letterman… you get the picture…

And my biggest pet peeve: Where was the star in the reasonably priced car segment? With the tricked out battery-powered Ford Focus? I pretty much tuned in just for that because I am such a Top Gear UK  nut and they did not use that in the show at all. (when they did show it later in the season it sucked, because the track was too small, too slow and too dumb with obstacles)

I think they could bring back Jerry Seinfeld more often for reoccurring appearances if they would let them genuinely show off their friendship and allow them to do segments where they do stuff they genuinely enjoy together as friends. Why not do a road trip challenge ala Top Gear with Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld and Tim Allen? Three baby boomer car guys with very different personalities. I think there was a bad Disney movie about that, but reality is far funnier and they would have to drive their own cars.

I think there are limitless possibilities to where Jay’s show could go, but recreating the same tired format and segments is so limiting and will lose steam fast. A lot of people were relieved when it ended, looking for Jay to do something more fresh, new, funny and clever.  Let him evolve this show and turn it into something new that people will be fascinated with again. Being risk averse is easy and challenging the safe route will push TV and the show further into new funny territory. At least go see the groundlings improv and see what kinds of ideas some new writing people would have for the show. You never know, you might like it.

(seeing how Jay Leno recycled jokes from his show as the host of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 2010 I now believe that all his writers should be fired and he should stop doing comedy if he wants to phone it in. There are too many other funny people who should be there instead)

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