There are three talk shows that I watch on television, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. (I now also watch The Colbert Report. With Stephen Colbert.)
Stewart comes on too late for me, but I can catch it several times the next day along with Colbert.
In our area, Leno starts at 10:35 pm and Letterman comes at at 11:05 pm Why they come on at these times instead of 10:00 and 11:00 is a mystery to me. I would just like to say that it really tees me off. I guess I'm picky, picky!
I watch Leno the first half hour of his show and then Letterman the first half hour of his show.
Sometimes I change back and forth. Clickity, Click!
I usually do not stay up for the second half of Letterman unless he has a guest that hits it off with me.
Leno has (do not put derogatory remark here) writers. His jokes sometimes stink. But he has that funny little-boy humor that gets him through the monologue. Occidentally, all the jokes are funny, but not that often. When he finds a stinker, he points it out as being just that, and usually gets a laugh.
It's the albatross around his neck.
At times, Leno's orchestra leader, Kevin, saves him during the dialogue. Kevin sometimes destroys him. Leno is a good sport and shakes it off.
I do not think there is enough malice, selfishness, anger, etc., in Leno to make him a great comic, but he usually gets the job done.
Sometimes the show's skits come off and some times they do not, but I like skits and hope for the best.
Sometimes he has a report from outside by a person who might be funny. He had a couple of young ladies a couple of years ago who were fun to watch. I think they are now raising babies, one in Oklahoma.
His recent reports have not been as funny.
There is a rule in the business that says:
If it's not funny, it's too damned long!
There is NO such rule!
I made it up.
I was just trying to show that I'm an expert on this subject.
Leno is not nosy enough or interested enough in his quest to be a good interviewer. He never gets you into the nuts and bolts of his guest.
Leno could have been more effective if he would simply say to a guest, "Let's see. You were born in Kentucky?"
"I heard that you wanted to be a chiropractor when you were a little kid."
He likes to sniff the women and say they are pretty. (Letterman does this "sniffing" too, but in a less intrusive way.)
I like it when Jay has animals. He is very good with them. He always goes beyond what is required.
He is also good when his fellow comedians come on. That is his bailiwick stemming from his continuous standup comedy routines off set.
His sidewalk interviews and headlines are always worth watching.
He is the King of the late night with a big audience.
David Letterman is an old man with a young child. He has had coronary bypass surgery. We know he is human.
Letterman does not rely on the monologue. He tells two or three jokes, one about rats or squirrels and their nuts, and that that is that. Orchestra leader, Paul, like Kevin on the Leno show, adlibs and either screws up or reinforces the monologue.
Letterman cant wait to get to his table and from that point you do not know what will happen.
Letterman uses facial and verbal antics to get attention. He throws pencils and cards around the studio. The other night a flaming man ran through the studio as did the New York Marathon winners. He had a bear that they put away every night which is now in hibernation. He plays "Will it Float," drops things off buildings, fools around with the diner owner across the street, and sometimes terrorizes the neighborhood by jumping motorcycles in the street.
Letterman talks to the audience much as Leno does, but he has "Know Your Cuts of Meat," etc., to add interest. Sometimes his guest has a trick or tries to fool the band with a song.
I have a song that I want to trick the band with. It's "Once I Went in Swimmin."
Letterman is a very good interviewer but not as good as Jack Paar or Johnny Carson. He has worse questions than Leno. I have only seen him dumbfounded by one quest. (Paris Hilton seems to have something missing that helps most people to answer questions rather than just sitting there saying, Duhhhh. )
Letterman never forgives his "Top Ten List." The following is my list for the show:
Why does David Letterman ALWAYS wear white socks?
1. He has jungle rot from WW II.
2. He hates to look for matching socks in the dark.
3. He does not want to forget his "Country Pumpkin" roots.
4. His brother is a male nurse with a large clothing allowance.
5. It helps him hide in the cotton field from the revenuers, along he's a Chicago White Sox fan.
6. He is an avid Whitetail Deer hunter.
7. He works a night job in a bakery.
8. He thinks he's Frosty the Snowman.
9. His great grandmother wore white socks and that's how he remembers her.
And the 10th reason that David Letterman wears white sox is:
10. He hopes to try out for the next Mickey-Mouse-type Disney Character.
Jon Stewart has a cynical humor that keeps his young audience laughing. Sideline characters provide skits to add to the fun. I like Samantha, but she can be too vulgar (as are others) and my wife makes me switch the channel.
Stewart also has a guest and the interview is usually serious.
Politicians, on the show, sometimes like to clown around and keep things funny. (They are in danger of getting clobbered by Jon's insights.)
The only thing I do not like about the Daily Show is that it is too short. Adding the Cobert Report has added the extra half hour it needed.
Of course, Stephen Cobert is a complete fool and on his way to fame and fortune.
We need comedy in this unfunny time.
I'm glad these guys are around!
copyright © John T. Jones, Ph.D. 2005