The late-night reign of tyranny is over. The Chin has been deposed, replaced by the benevolent dictatorship of The Giggler. Yes, last night Jay Leno had his final episode of The Tonight Show, ending a 22-year run as the king of late night television and the heir to the empire built by Johnny Carson in Burbank, California. Jay Leno has said goodbye to The Tonight Show, clearing the way for Jimmy Fallon and the show’s return to New York City. Fingers crossed Jay doesn’t start angling to come back the moment Fallon’s show hits a bump in the ratings, like he did with the last guy who replaced him on Tonight.
“It’s fun to kind of be the old guy and sit back here and see where the next generation takes this great institution, and it really is. It’s been a great institution for 60 years. I’m so glad I got to be a part of it, but it really is time to go, hand it off to the next guy. It really is,” said a teary Leno. “And in closing, I want to quote Johnny Carson, who was the greatest guy to ever do this job. And he said, ‘I bid you all a heartfelt goodbye.'”
Of course, his last transition of power didn’t go so well for replacement host Conan O’Brien. Maybe it is different this time, who knows? I kind of doubt it will be. Even if Leno doesn’t return to The Tonight Show, he’ll land somewhere. There are too many television networks looking to fill too many hours for him not to land somewhere with his brand of inoffensive late-night chattery. He won’t make what he once made as the host of Tonight, but he had to take a pay cut there to keep his staff on, so he’ll be willing to work for less to maintain his fleet of automobiles.
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