So Long, and Thanks for All the Jokes
After a raucous standing ovation that lasted well over a minute, the audience settled down enough for Jay to begin his last Tonight Show monologue by thanking some of the public figures who have provided endless fodder over the years. Leno may be late-night’s nice guy, but that hasn’t stopped him from laying into the politicians and celebs who deserve it most.
Lamenting a Joke Deferred
Of course, Jay did mourn some of the jokes he won’t get to make until September, like yesterday’s Bush-Clinton appearance in Toronto. How Conan will reshape the tone of the show in his own mold remains to be seen.
Biting the Hand that Feeds Him
The fact that he’s staying on at NBC for the foreseeable future didn’t stop Leno from taking a few of his infamous potshots at the network, including calling his new prime-time slot “a secluded spot where no one can find me.” The role of late-night hosts as lampoons of their own networks is long established—David Letterman of The Late Show gave CBS hell during its ratings-challenged seasons.
Eubanks Out, Weinberg In
Although guitarist Kevin Eubanks is following Leno to the new show (Conan’s Late Night cohort Max Weinberg will be taking over the Tonight Show band-leading duties), before vacating his current digs he tried his hand at one of Jay’s signature monologue one-liners. Eubanks and Leno have always had a congenial relationship, but last night the musician found out cracking jokes isn’t as easy as it looks.
The Best of the Worst
No word yet on whether Jaywalking will appear on the new show, but the highlight reel Jay played was a reminder of how hilarious—and depressing—this segment can be. Jaywalking became famous as part send-up of the media’s man-on-the-street interviews, and part commentary on the ill-informed, self-absorbed American public.
The Hair Apparent
The curiously coiffed Conan O’Brien dropped by to wish Leno the best of luck and reminisce over a clip of the two from 1993. Conan’s late-late-night slot has allowed him to pursue stranger skits than the venerated Tonight Show might have been able to absorb, such as In the Year 2000.
Consider the Torch Passed
The two comedians shared a sober moment with a symbolic passing of the torch. Jay isn’t quite a generation older than Conan, but with his famous silver hair and his age just shy of 60, the scene did have the feel of a mentor handing the reins to his student.
An Irony-Free, Genuinely Sweet Moment. No, Really.
Because staying in a Hollywood marriage for 30 years is at least as impressive as staying on the air for 17, Leno took a moment to thank his wife, saying he was proud to be “leaving this dance with the same girl I came in with.”
Finally, Leno ended his show by highlighting his real legacy—the 68 children who were born to Tonight Show staffers during his hosting run. We can’t begin to imagine what’s in the water over there, but hopefully it’ll stay there when Conan takes the reins on June 1.
The Daily Beast Video curates the most essential and entertaining video, and brings you original and exclusive productions from our talented contributors.