Some Helpful Advice For Jay Leno On His First Night Back At The Tonight Show

The past three post-Jay Leno Show weeks have been an interminable wait for the rudely hiatused host to retake The Tonight Show throne, and usher in a second reign of peace and prosperity as the undisputed ruler of late night. (Luckily, the network made sure America got its Leno fix by spackling every crack in their Winter Olympic schedule with those jaunty "Get Back" promos -- The Beatles have never been so mind-buggeringly deployed!) Even though he's had 17 or so years to prepare himself for this big night, we're sure he could use some advice to help ease his transition and quiet the angry fluttering of the first-night butterflies, and so we're offering our suggestions to make sure this latest go-around begins as smoothly as possible.

You've been here before, so stick with what works.

In panic-buttoning Conan after a blink-and-you-missed-it seven-month tenure and restoring you to late night power following your decimation of the primetime schedule (not your fault! You were dealt an impossible hand!), NBC has given you the ultimate vote of confidence. They're bringing you back to do what you do best: seemingly endless monologues in which you give the day's newsmakers a playful titty-twister, exposing the hilarious ignorance of good-natured tourists through the power of clever editing, and celebrating the quirks of small-town journalism by running a highlighter over comedically fortuitous misspellings in classified ads. You've perfected this secret sauce over nearly two decades of painstaking experimentation; trust it's still delicious and slather it with abandon across your audience's palate. Now's not the time to mess with the formula.

Your audience could care less about everything that's happened.

It's true! It's entirely possible that the demographic you've been re-hired to deliver has never even heard of Conan O'Brien, and if they have, all they remember is vague flashes of a jiggling red bouffant before they drifted off to sleep. Now that the TV Guide will remind them you're on late again, they'll assume you were on an extended vacation -- you've earned it, you took like one day off in 17 years! -- and contentedly fall right back into their old routine. If you must nod to The Unfortunate Events Of January, make a self-deprecating joke about how many times NBC fired you, and how you're leaving the engine running in your 1929 DuPont Le Mans Speedster just in case they decide to can you a third time by giving you The Today Show. People love a victim, just look at how well your Oprah appearance went!

Get on Twitter immediately.

Conan finally jumped on the bandwagon, and has racked up nearly half a million followers in less than five days. He doesn't even have a show (not your fault! It was all about the numbers, nothing personal!), and he's slaughtering you on the internet. So suck it up, have a PA set up an account for you, and get to tweeting. If you're not comfortable with sharing your own thoughts, consider the kind of stunt-Twitter account the kids go nuts for. ShitMyMavisSays ("Are you coming to dinner, or are you going to reheat this lasagna on the engine block of the DeLorean again?!") would be a guaranteed hit that could land you a sitcom development deal, the money from which you could place in a burlap sack and bury underneath the car hangar, just in case something happens to the hundreds of millions of Tonight Show dollars you also won't touch. It never hurts to have a sensible safety net for a bizarre back-up plan.

Pages: 1 2