Tonight Show: Jay Leno near the end of the road

May 27, 2009 by  


Jay Leno has been the face of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for 17 years. And that long and twisting road is coming to an end on Friday.

It’s a job he won against a lot of solid competition. The Tonight Show is a coveted position for any host or comedian.  NBC wasn’t too sure at first, but Leno won them over. He’s only missed 4 days over those 17 years, and worked without complaint.

Late-Late night host Conan O’Brien will take over the show on Monday. But Leno isn’t really leaving our TV screens, in fact, he’s sort of moving up in time slots. “The Jay Leno Show” will air at 10PM Eastern soon.

At age 59, he’s finally hit “the big time”.

Johnny Carson (the king of Late Night, whose reign began in 1962) put America to peaceful and humorous rest for 30 years, and endorsed Leno as his replacement. Since May 25, 1992, Jay Leno has sat at this desk. It’ll be strange to see someone else there.

He has been well-liked. Sturdy. Unfailingly likable. A regular guy, that audiences identify with. Not a blockbuster or a highly controversial figure. That’s not his style.

He was just solid. Intelligent. And treated all of his guests with grace and humility, the way talk show guests should be treated.

Happy trails, Jay Leno, and may your new show do well.

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