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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Letterman, Leno and the boys returned with a bang

David Letterman looked like Santa Claus, sporting a gray beard, as he busted out jokes during his monologue, while over on NBC, Jay Leno was as polished as ever, despite having no writing staff for his monologue.

If one thing has come out of this TV writers’ strike, it’s that the boys of late night have upped their games. Neither Leno nor Letterman disappointed.

Many viewers tuned in to Leno to see what could be likened to a high-wire act, a show with no script. While others threw their support to Letterman, a show with a full writing staff, the endorsement of the WGA, and celebrity guest Robin Williams, for good measure.

Leno confessed he wrote his monologue himself, trying out jokes on his wife to see if they were funny. He fired off this gem, saying that the strike had cost half a billion dollars so far, about the same as a Paul McCartney divorce settlement. Funny, right? Leno went on to say that Dave had worked out a deal with the writers and was going full steam ahead with a full staff on CBS, while Leno himself was “one man” taking on the machine.

Meanwhile over on Letterman, his monologue was sharp, too, perhaps amped up a bit because he knows he’s facing competition from a man who is working on wit and comedic impromptu timing alone. After Dave’s monologue, Letterman’s pal Bif came onstage, feigning disbelief that writers actually had written Letterman’s jokes. It was a funny moment; trust me.

I was surprised to see Letterman with his scruffy beard that made him appear as if he was tired and had been working hard. If anyone should have been sporting that look, it should have been Leno and his “one-man” show. Letterman joked that he looked like a missing hiker or Kenny Rogers “before the surgery.”

Leno killed some time by taking questions from the audience, and only a couple times did it feel like the show had strayed off course. Conan on the other hand spent several minutes spinning his wedding ring on his desk trying to kill time. Not exactly must-see TV.

Overall, it was a good effort on everyone’s part. Welcome back boys. We’ve missed you all!


Nick said...

Those beards were scary. But, seriously, that joke about Kenny Rogers was hilarious.

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