February 7, 2014

Jay Leno

We live in an era of quite good stand-up comedy, which has a number of guild customs that strive to keep any individual from getting too large of a share of the market the way that Bob Hope had in the mid-Century. Jay Leno's ambitiousness grated against this spirit of the age, so much of the resentment against him and his mass market comedy came from intense comedy fans. The finest comedians tend to be messed-up depressives, but, still, I have to be in awe of the bulletproof supermen like Leno and Hope who can just go on and on and on.

Personally, I liked Leno as a comedian (I saw him live among nine stand-ups at the Improv in 1981; not surprisingly, he was the best, and his story about his father coming to visit him from Boston is one of the most memorable I've ever heard), and I didn't hold it against him that he pitched his show's comedy at the 98 IQ mass audience and let Letterman aim at the 103 IQ audience.

But, the interviews ... Unlike stand-up comedy, we don't live in an era of good interviewing, so the fact that Leno was a terrible interviewer didn't generate that much criticism. But he was much worse than his predecessor Johnny Carson. The science fiction classic Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle about the approach and catastrophic impact of a comet includes a brilliant chapter written from Johnny Carson's point of view as he interviews the two astronomers who discovered the approaching comet. Niven and Pournelle go inside Carson's head as he figures out on the fly on live national TV how to guide the scientists into making their esoteric topic fascinating to the masses in TV land. Granted, astronomy was Carson's hobby so this comparison is a little unfair, plus nobody is interested in anything besides show biz celebrities these days, but Carson was also much better than Leno at interviewing movie stars.
  

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

Huh?

Whatever.

I have a much higher IQ than 98 or 103. Letterman isn't funny.

Jay was a good guy. That's why they hated him.

Garth being on the show tonight said it all.

Steve Sailer said...

Letterman's Top Ten lists are a product of what my former next door neighbor, a "Married with Children" writer, would denounce as "the Harvard Mafia taking over show biz ever since The Simpsons."

Hunsdon said...

Yesterday's NPR, "Morning Edition", was discussing Leno, and there was palpable resentment of his dulling the transgressive edge of his comedy for popular success.

"He could have been so much more," was the bitter undertone.

As Leno drives away in one of his vintage Ferraris, I'm sure he's playing the world's smallest fiddle.

Anonymous said...

Ok so to cut to the crap...

What you're really saying is that the Jewish comedians were jealous that Leno was actually funny despite the fact that they think 'Will it float' is like somehow more intellectual funny.

It's like that naked man art article...They get offended when their ugliness doesn't get them worshiped as much as they like. And Leno's popularity was proof of Letterman's suckiness...so instead as the other commenter said they blame Jay for 'dulling the transgressive edge'

Ok got it.


Anonymous said...

Leno was willing to upset the status quo to get what he wanted, and backed it up with hard work and ability. Letterman had the ability, but didn't like to work hard. Conan worked hard, but didn't have the ability.
Leno won, as he should have.
I highly recommend checking out "Leno's Garage" on YouTube. He shows off an amazing array of fine automobiles.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is worse at interviewing than Carson.

Letterman's interviews are like a government employee filling out a form: He's just going down a list, checking off boxes.

Leno does the check box thing too but hides it better.

Conan, regardless of what he is doing, has to make himself the center of attention. The interviews aren't about the celebrity, they're about Conan.

Craig Ferguson actually has some talent in this regard, but he is still leagues below Carson. Craig probably has skill in this space because he doesn't do pre-interviews.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer:"Letterman's Top Ten lists are a product of what my former next door neighbor, a "Married with Children" writer, would denounce as "the Harvard Mafia taking over show biz ever since The Simpsons."

I remember reading the two-volume compilations of his top ten lists that Letterman once put out. Very funny stuff.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer:"Personally, I liked Leno as a comedian (I saw him live among nine stand-ups at the Improv in 1981; not surprisingly, he was the best, and his story about his father coming to visit him from Boston is one of the most memorable I've ever heard)"

Back in the 80s, Leno's stand-up act was top-notch......But the guy went seriously downhill after he got Carson's job.

Anonymous said...

Lucifer's Hammer is a fun read -- one of my father's favorites as a UCLA law student in the 70s, which is the only reason I know it -- but hardly a Top 100 "classic." The Irwin Allen world-disaster subgenre of sci fi is usually more enjoyable in Martin Amis/Zucker brothers parody form.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer:"and I didn't hold it against him that he pitched his show's comedy at the 98 IQ mass audience and let Letterman aim at the 103 IQ audience."

I've long suspected that it was Leno's "dumbing down" of his stage persona that really offended his fellow comics. In terms of people in the entertainment industry who work in front of the camera (actors, singers, etc), stand-up comics probably have the highest IQs.I suspect that they see Leno as a kind of intellectual traitor, a man who has debased himself to the level of the herd.

Anonymous said...

Steve, what do you think of the new guy? He reminds me of an irritating underachiever college student. Of course Conan O'Brien in retrospect was no great shakes but probably could do a decent astronomer interview. Tom Snyder seemed dumb as a box of rocks. This format is dead ever since "ironic" Internet sketch podcasts took root. A late-nite vehicle for stars promoting their movie/album/cookbook seems utterly superfluous.

Unknown said...

Jerry Seinfeld is doing an internet show, Comedians in cars getting coffee, where Jerry and another comedian ride in a unique car and go have coffee somewhere. Aside from Jerry himself, the funniest comedian is Leno (of the ones I've watched.) Letterman comes off as a (non-funny) supercilious jerk.

Anonymous said...

> "Carson was also much better than Leno at interviewing movie stars"

I hate to keep beating a dead horse, but the movie stars of yesteryear were VASTLY more intelligent and more interesting and more eccentric than they are nowadays.

These days, at the first sign of a shegetz actor or a shiksa actress getting all uppity and non-compliant and showing any signs of intelligence or independence of thought or even the very slightest deviation from the officially prescribed and sanctioned Narrative, the Frankfurt School will yank them right off the stage and they'll never be heard from again.

And all the good little shegetz cabana-boy actors and shiksa whore actresses are very well aware of this reality.

Anonymous said...

I remember Carson.

The interview part of Carson was the worst part of his show too. It's also the worst part of Letterman, and Fallon, who is no better than Leno, devotes much more time to the interviews and less to the bits.

I'll miss Leno. I never understood why SWPLs hated him so much.

SGOTI said...

Years ago when he was first getting tapped for the gig, Leno showed up for a photo shoot where I worked my summer job.

Even then my BS detector was pretty fine tuned. I just didn't detect any in the guy.

The weather didn't cooperate, so he sat around shooting the breeze with us for about an hour. Just down to earth, wry, funny, and seemingly grounded. Hope he didn't change.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

I know guys who have worked with Leno and said what a great guy he is, so I don't enjoy bashing him. However, your second point has always been my major complaint about Leno. I have always thought his interviews are awful. I'm not saying they're bad, I'm saying they can often be unwatchable. I remember changing the channel countless times when it appeared Leno was incapable of holding a simple conversation.

At first I simply chalked it up to Leno's misfortune in following Carson's footsteps. Leno, however, has not improved one bit in 22 years.

People always defend Leno by saying he is a great stand-up. I have never debated or denied that point. Yet, The Tonight Show is not simply a stand up routine. The monologue is secondary to the guest interviews. Carson was the master at the interview, because he understood he was there to get something out of the guests and provide humor and some insight along the way.

Similar to Carson (although with a sardonic twist), was Letterman in the NBC days. The interviews were unpredictable and entertaining. Dave used to almost dare the guest to say something he could pounce on. Of course, Letterman's been awful for a long time.

Steve from Detroit

Mr. Anon said...

Are those people who assure us that Leno is a dullard the same ones who assure us that Andy Kaufman was a comedic genius, despite the fact that Andy Kaufman never actually was, you know, funny - in the technical sense of making people laugh?

I thought Leno was a good comic. His monologue consisted of a lot of jokes, so even if a number of them fell flat, enough of them were funny to leave you laughing most of the time. Letterman on the other hand spends most of his time mugging and being endlessly amused by his own tiresome tics. He's a bore. O'Brien does that to some extent too, though I don't find it quite as annoying with him, as he is not a bitter, awful old creep, as Letterman is.

As an interviewer, Leno turned the Tonight Show - middle-brow at best under Carson - into something decidedly low-brow. Carson at least occasionally interviewed people who weren't actors - Carl Sagan, Andrew Tobias, Dave Barry. I remember once seeing an interview with Frank Abagnale. Leno only ever seemed to interview actors.

One mystery is why NBC was so keen to kick him off the air despite his high ratings. Did his high ratings not matter as he pulled in an older demographic? Or did he make enough jokes about Obama, tame as they were, to convince NBC - which through it's owner GE is conjoined at the hip with the Obama administration - to fire him?

Mr. Anon said...

"Steve Sailer said...

Letterman's Top Ten lists are a product of what my former next door neighbor, a "Married with Children" writer, would denounce as "the Harvard Mafia taking over show biz ever since The Simpsons.""

I did find the Top-Ten lists to be funny though - about the only funny thing on Letterman. They're better in book-form, so that one does not have to hear Letterman reading them in his bored, perfunctory style.

Dan Kurt said...

re: Leno departs

Will he be back?

Will another network give him a similar program?

If not, why not? It seems like a no brainer to me that he would attract a large audience.

Dan Kurt

Anonymous said...

Your mention of Niven and Pournelle had me wondering if you know them personally? You all live in LA. You should be collaborating or at least hanging out.

ysv_rao said...

In fairness the very first Harvard Mafia alum Conan O'Brien actually did solid work on the Simpsons including some of the best episodes. Though the follow up batches took the show in painfully unfunny on your nose ideological direction
I liked his show as well .Late Night at NBC and the new on on TBS
He tried to mix more high brow Lampoon stuff with juvenile silliness(masturbating bear, vomitting Kermit). It worked well enough
Though he could be Lettermany, he was never was as provincial and that got him a wider audience

Jay Leno is pretty much only comedian who skewers Obama.And that's good enough for me. The so called edgy transgressive types mentioned by Hunsdon claim an inability to mock the President because he is oh so very calm, composed and flawless. Ugh

Anonymous said...

>>Steve Sailer Wrote:
""We live in an era of quite good stand-up comedy, which has a number of guild customs that strive to keep any individual from getting too large of a share of the market the way that Bob Hope had in the mid-Century.""


What about Seinfeld in the 90s? He had the best of both worlds. An very successful show as well as a very successful stand up touring show.

Or does Seinfeld prove the rule, since he is the closest to gaining the largest slice of the pie since Bob Hope?

ysv_rao said...

Furthermore Jay had Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and treated them fairly.
Which other host would do that?

Superman said...

As far as bad interviewing goes, nobody comes close to Jon Stewart.

Anonymous said...

In Jay's defense, Carson had a better class of movie actor to interview.

What's really depressing is how bad Letterman and Leno are at interviewing OTHER comedians. Unlike Carson, they have a hard time feeding straight-lines, making a phony laugh seem sincere, and generally keeping the guest funny while discreetly counter-punching with a funny line.

Anonymous said...

Of the three Conan is actually the best interviewer. Talk about a low bar.

Anonymous said...

Here's a killer conservation:

Jay Leno interviewing Joe Biden and Sean Hannity.

That would drop your IQ down to 98.

Rex Little said...

I've always had a problem with the way Leno delivers his jokes. When he gets to the punchline, he drops his volume, and half the time I can't hear it.

jody said...

leno was the funniest. also saw his standup in the 00s and he was one of the funniest standups ever as well. all without swearing.

letterman is not funny anymore and hasn't been in years. he's also become a major political toolbox. leno is a liberal, but he's a do gooder liberal. he's not a cultural marxist, and was the first major comedian to turn on obama.

jimmy fallon is not funny, and i expect his ratings to be low. conan was fairly funny, but people didn't take to him. like many things in american culture, we are coming to the end of an era, and the previously bottomless well of legendary talent in every field, is drying up. no more major musicians, no more major comedians, no more major cartoons (they're STILL running with the simpsons, south park, and family guy - material over a decade out of their peak.) diversity in the younger demographics will ensure those things are gone. the vibrant offer and contribute little to these fields (california public schools are 52% mexican?).

i know i'll probably be laughed at by the high brow commenters here, but pro wrestling is going through the same thing. there are no new major wrestlers coming down the line. ever. we've seen the best it will ever be. WWE is hitting ratings lows and pay per view lows - who wants to see CM punk, the miz, daniel bryant? these guys are a far, FAR cry from the fake but great entertainment offered by andre the giant, hulk hogan, the ultimate warrior, steve austin, and the rock. ted turner built up an empire partly on pro wrestling.

television entertainment is about to be reduced to nothing but no talent reality shows and those insipid weekly elimination talent competitions which have infested every genre. weekly elimination...food shows? at least soap operas are gone. good riddance.

BurplesonAFB said...

>Letterman's Top Ten lists are a product of what my former next door neighbor, a "Married with Children" writer, would denounce as "the Harvard Mafia taking over show biz ever since The Simpsons."



Steve, it's strange that it took so many decades for that to happen after the Show Biz Mafia took over Harvard.

agnostic said...

What if Steven Wright could stay in character long enough for interviews? We desperately need somebody funny and cathartic for the above-100 IQ audience to replace the noxious Jon Leibowitz.

Steve, you should pitch the idea at the next Guild of Steves meeting.

Cail Corishev said...

I remember thinking Letterman was pretty funny back around 1988, but back then it was Carson, Letterman, or the shopping channel. Mostly I'm shocked that he's still on TV.

Anonymous said...

"Letterman isn't funny.

"Jay was a good guy. That's why they hated him."

I thought in his early days of stand-up on Carson, Letterman was funny, but he grew into a bitter, sarcastic POS who thinks he's educated and smart but isn't. (Okay, maybe he always was those things underneath but he hid those traits in his early years before he made it.)

Carson's last years were painful and I had to shut him off. He was nasty, told too many "in-jokes" and wasn't funny any more.

Leno was easy listening and warm.

For the life of me, I can't see talent in Fallon.

Anonymous said...

"Letterman on the other hand spends most of his time mugging and being endlessly amused by his own tiresome tics."

A good description of Jon Stewart, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

RE: Leno and the art of interviewing,

One thing to recall about Letterman during his 80s heyday (before ennui creeped into his act)was that he was the most feared celebrity interviewer on television. Lots of big names would simply not do his show out of fear that Letterman would simply destroy them on air, puncturing their smugness and self-conceit. Eddie Murphy, for example, once actually confessed on air to Letterman that the reason why he avoided appearing on his show was because he was afraid of him.

Of course, that same willingness to deflate Hollywood windbags helps to explain Bill Murray's fondness for Letterman in the 80s. Like calls to like, and Murray seemed to realize that he and Letterman were on the same wavelength, as both had little time for pretentious starlets and Hollywood bigwigs.

Leno, of course, is the polar opposite of 80s Letterman. He works with the Hollywood machine, stuffing more wind into the windbags. No one fears him.

syon

pat said...

I love Ferraris. If there is a red Ferrari on the cover of a car magazine - I buy it (the magazine not the car).

But I don't have the income to buy Ferraris for myself. That Leno's job. He buys and keeps my cars for me. And I'm happy to say he does a splendid job.

In all the testimonials somehow Jack Paar has been forgotten. As forgotten as Conan O'Brian.

I'm sure the Fox News staff is on alert to see if the new kid Jimmie Fallon tilts towards Obama. Leno started making anti-Obama jokes a couple moths ago and now somehow this proven money maker who dominates his time slot is retired.

It does seem odd. I never watched Leno the way I used to watch Carson but there was never any doubt that Leno was the 'Man' - Carson's natural successor. Forcing him off the air seems crazy. Could it be national politics - his reluctance to take cheap shots at Republicans?

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

I have a much higher IQ than 98 or 103. Letterman isn't funny.

Jay was a good guy. That's why they hated him.


Letterman is funny. Especially back in the day when he actually cared.

Leno is hated because he's lame. He's not funny.

Anonymous said...

Granted, astronomy was Carson's hobby so this comparison is a little unfair, plus nobody is interested in anything besides show biz celebrities these days, but Carson was also much better than Leno at interviewing movie stars.

Leno has a youtube channel devoted to his pet hobby, cars:

https://www.youtube.com/user/JayLenosGarage

But he manages to make this extremely boring and lame, even though he gets to deal with the most interesting cars out there.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is worse at interviewing than Carson.

Letterman's interviews are like a government employee filling out a form: He's just going down a list, checking off boxes.

Leno does the check box thing too but hides it better.

Conan, regardless of what he is doing, has to make himself the center of attention. The interviews aren't about the celebrity, they're about Conan.


This is largely driven by guest caliber. Leno, being in LA and hosting the more prestigious late night talk show, had bigger celebs as guest. Letterman has fewer big celeb guests, and Conan fewer still.

Anonymous said...

I'll miss Leno. I never understood why SWPLs hated him so much.

Because he wasn't funny and mainly asked softball questions to airheaded celebs.

Anonymous said...

Your mention of Niven and Pournelle had me wondering if you know them personally? You all live in LA. You should be collaborating or at least hanging out.

They surf on weekends and hang out at an organic juice bar in Santa Monica.

Anonymous said...

David Letterman may suck now but in the 80's, he was really like the Beatles to many Gen X'ers. And Jay was his funniest guest. ............Jay's Tonight Show was kind of lame but he still was a master comedic craftsman in the monologues.

Anonymous said...

Of the three Conan is actually the best interviewer. Talk about a low bar.

Conan is probably the smartest and best interviewer, but his guests are such no-name celebs that nobody's ever heard of, that he has to muck them up with his antics.

diana said...

"What you're really saying is that the Jewish comedians were jealous that Leno was actually funny despite the fact that they think 'Will it float' is like somehow more intellectual funny."

Actually this is one instance in which Sailer wasn't blaming Jews, although that didn't stop him from allowing a comment about Jews.

This blog has become a real anti-Semitic sewer.

Black Sea said...

"the movie stars of yesteryear were VASTLY more intelligent and more interesting and more eccentric than they are nowadays."

Watch as much as you care to of this discussion between Orson Welles and Peter O'Toole on the subject of Hamlet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smMa38CZCSU

Two contemporary actors and/or directors who could pull off a conversation like this? Maybe Mike Figgis, but who would carry the other end of the conversation?

James Kabala said...

The animosity against Leno began when he got The Tonight Show even though Carson wanted Letterman to be his successor. Of course, after recent revelations about the personal lives of Carson and Letterman, it seems a bit like an Adulterers' Alliance against an apparently decent guy, but at the time many viewed Leno's behavior as underhanded and treacherous. Then it intensified after the fiasco of the attempted transition to O'Brien.

In response to Anonymous 4:12: None of the principals involved (Carson, Leno, Letterman, or O'Brien) are Jewish. NBC executives probably are mostly Jewish - they have been pro-Leno and anti-Leno at different times, but never pro-Letterman.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit I started out hating Leno for being a sellout who dumbed down his act and liked Letterman for attacking pompous A-holes like Bryant Gumble and Shirley Maclaine.

Then over time Letterman reveled himself to be a repetitive, cynical, left-wing hack. Leno meanwhile, kept on doing good solid humor, so I came around.

Random passerby said...

Letterman was fine until the Letterman/Leno squabble over The Tonight Show. Letterman went to CBS and slowly turned into the bitter man he is now.

Melendwyr said...

In all seriousness, do you really find a five-point difference in IQ to be noticeable? Or are the numbers just shorthand for "slightless less bright"?

Anonymous said...

Conan, regardless of what he is doing, has to make himself the center of attention. The interviews aren't about the celebrity, they're about Conan.


2/7/14, 4:19 AM



Basically, Conan is more famous than a lot of the guests he got to interview on late night so it a kind of perverse sense it makes sense for him to make himself the center of the interview when he's interviewing someone like Matthew Fox pitching We Are Marshall.

Anonymous said...

Leno, of course, is the polar opposite of 80s Letterman. He works with the Hollywood machine, stuffing more wind into the windbags. No one fears him.

Yes this is why Letterman was better and Leno was so lame. But it's also why Leno was officially more "successful".

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what everyone thinks of Leno, Letterman, Conan, etc., I think we can all agree that Jimmy Fallon is absolutely terrible. The most talentless hack out there. He was awful on SNL as well. I have no idea why he's employed in showbiz. He should be an accountant or something.

I think Jimmy Kimmel is pretty good. He has both the affable, non-threatening demeanor of Leno and the more biting humor of Letterman. But this could be due to the lower caliber of guest he has on. When you're a bigger star than many of your guests, you can afford to be a bit more aggressive.

Anonymous said...

I never watch these shows anymore, haven't for years. It's just... too much. There are so many venues for interviews and comedy now, the late night talk shows just seem redundant. And I can't keep track of or get interested in all the latest up-and-comers they feature.
On the other hand, I have found one great interview show and it's a podcast: WTF with Marc Maron. It's like a more intense and personal "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross. Maron interviews various comedians and creative types and really delves into their biographies and his own and keeps it all funny, fresh and real.

Anonymous said...

In all seriousness, do you really find a five-point difference in IQ to be noticeable? Or are the numbers just shorthand for "slightless less bright"?

Jensen did a study back in the 90s that found a 4.5 ~ 6.7 mean IQ differential between Leno and Letterman viewers.

Reg Cæsar said...

In all seriousness, do you really find a five-point difference in IQ to be noticeable? -Melendwyr

In two individuals, no. In two populations, yes.

That was the whole point of The Bell Curve. Our slow slide into the 90s would have enormous effects at the tails.

Anonymous said...

Carson not only was a better interviewer than Leno or LEtterman, he was better than his old time competition. Cavett was good with people he was simpatico with, otherwise he was awful. Merv and Mike Douglas lacked wit and Rivers was terrible. You have to go back to jack parr to find someone who was better at the Late night interview.

As Tom Snyder, yeah he was dumb, but he asked questions and let the interviewee talk. Something that most of the ones today won't do.

Reg Cæsar said...

Two of Johnny's best recurring interviews were with Charles Grodin and Carol Wayne. You were never quite sure if he and Grodin really hated each other, or whether Miss Wayne was concealing a pretty active brain behind her ditz act. Johnny could walk that tightrope, Jay can't.

Jay is really good at Johnny's (and Bob's) other tightwire, though: balancing the political barbs so one half of the audience doesn't walk out.

Now, to that other balancing act, Chris Christie. What do he and Leno have in common?

They're both Italian and Scottish mixes. Any other (US) examples come to mind? Joe Guzzardi, perhaps? The UK boasts Dario Franchitti, Junior Campbell (Cancellari), and the late Lena Zavaroni. And a whole host of others.

And don't forget Guy "Auld Lang Syne" Lombardo, and Lucia di Lammermoor!

Anonymous said...

In all seriousness, do you really find a five-point difference in IQ to be noticeable? -Melendwyr

In two individuals, no. In two populations, yes.

Reg Caesar:"That was the whole point of The Bell Curve. Our slow slide into the 90s would have enormous effects at the tails."

Yeah, as Reg pointed, the real difference lies in the tail ends of the Bell Curve. Letterman's right side tale is significantly fatter than Leno's.

Anonymous said...

Though Christie's father was Scots and Irish. Leno's mother came from Scotland as a child and Jay is that oddest of birds, Scots/Italian Presbyterian.

Reg Cæsar said...

You have to go back to jack parr to find someone who was better at the Late night interview.

When "Fat Jack" Leonard informed him that "My wife is an acrobat," Paar answered, "She'd have to be!"

Anonymous said...

Carson obviously had an ear for budding talent - who could have know that the girl from this show would become this.

Hunsdon said...

Black Sea said: Watch as much as you care to of this discussion between Orson Welles and Peter O'Toole on the subject of Hamlet.

Hunsdon said: I am unsure, sir, whether to bless or to curse you.

diana said: Actually this is one instance in which Sailer wasn't blaming Jews, although that didn't stop him from allowing a comment about Jews.

Hunsdon, furiously scribbling notes: Never allow comments about Jews. *unless laudatory.

Anonymous said...

Leno was much funnier when he appealed to a narrower audience back in the early 80s. He was hacky for the last 20 years.

It's hard to explain to people that Leno and Letterman were once funny.

Reg Cæsar said...

It's hard to explain to people that Leno and Letterman were once funny.

Letterman's arsehole act was funny when it was still just an act. Ever-increasing authenticity ruined it.

geschrei said...

Back in the mid 80s Letterman was truly required watching. But the pandering for Carson's gig between him and Leno ruined both men in my opinion.

In recent years I've considered Craig Ferguson to be the only head that was worth the trouble of staying awake. Plus he was brilliant as the Person Of Indeterminite Gender in A Series Of Unfortunate Events, far surpassing Leno's most memorable theatric achievement as the loutish cabbie in American Hot Wax.

In the wake od Leno being put out to pasture, I find it interesting that no one seems to be discussing Seth Myers impending takeover of Dave and Conan's old desk. Anyone think he's up to the task?

Anonymous said...

I think people just got comfortable initially with Jay but he became out of date quickly. And people never took the chance to venture out. Leno spent many segments on Letterman's show ... thus helping move him along. Carson wanted irreverent Letterman ... nbc wanted Leno safe for the old folks.

Carson appeared on Letterman and wrote jokes till he died ... As well as allowed usage of his skits.

Letterman had a huge college following.

Still to me only second to Carson.

Craig Ferguson is next ... just hysterical.

Anonymous said...

How would Chris Rock Be?

Harry Baldwin said...

We desperately need somebody funny and cathartic for the above-100 IQ audience to replace the noxious Jon Leibowitz.

Not a Jon Stewart fan but he occasionally does a great interview, such as the January 30 one with Nancy Pelosi. I don't think I've ever seen Pelosi questioned like that. Obama NEVER is. Even O'Reilly's pre-Superbowl interview with him could have been a lot more trenchant, but of course O'Reilly is ideologically illogical and more-or-less agrees with the president on a number of thorny issues like immigration.

pat said...

I have a much higher IQ than 98 or 103. Letterman isn't funny.

Of course you do. This is a high IQ blog. Steve won't tell us his IQ but it is obviously damn high.

The guy you have come over to pull your weeds might have an IQ of 98, but otherwise you probably don't even know anyone with a 98 IQ. Such people, alas, don't know what 'regression to the mean' means.

Albertosaurus

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Carson obviously had an ear for budding talent - who could have know that the girl from this show would become this."

Those kids were really good. Today it would be inconceivable for any network talk show to air a quartet playing Bach. It would never happen. The country is just a lot dumber than it was in the 70s/80s.

Bottledwater said...


Those kids were really good. Today it would be inconceivable for any network talk show to air a quartet playing Bach. It would never happen. The country is just a lot dumber than it was in the 70s/80s.


Then why does the country now score so much higher on IQ tests? Don't confuse a lack of intellectualism with low IQ. The country today is smart as hell. Folks are doing genetic engineering, building quantum computers...this far and away the smartest time in history. Who cares about Bach? Don't impose your cultural values on others.

Bottledwater said...

The guy you have come over to pull your weeds might have an IQ of 98, but otherwise you probably don't even know anyone with a 98 IQ.

What a ludicrously stupid assertion. Not only does virtually everyone here know someone with an IQ BELOW 98, but you likely have such people as colleagues and family members. Charles Murray's conclusion that society is hyper cognitively stratified is 100% wrong. Even at one of he most cognitively stratified places on earth (Harvard), when you force the kids to take an OFFICIAL IQ test (not the SAT which selected them), the average IQ is 128 and about 2% score below 98. Commenters here probably average 115, with 2% of us scoring below 85. But even IQ 85 is quite smart thanks to the Flynn Effect.

Reg Cæsar said...

Who cares about Bach? Don't impose your cultural values on others. --Bottledwaterwalla

Intelligence + relativism x arrogance = trouble

This equation should be carved into a stone arch in the center of Silicon Valley, but I'm afraid there is no center to Silicon Valley.

But you're right: we shouldn't impose our cultural values on "others". (How other are you?) we should only admit those who already share them.

If we're going to open our doors to Asians, I'll take a chick with a Strad over a prick with a 'Pad any animal of the calendar. She'll have a lower IQ, alright-- irritation quotient.

good salt granules are hard to find said...

"This blog has become a real anti-Semitic sewer"

"Has become?" Anyway I'm sure the phenomenon owes heavily to the SPLC/ADL intern contingent (iSteve's most loyal readers 15 years running), for whom every comments thread is Open Mic Night. Wait till you've read the inevitable non-sequitur Jew crack in a post about Scottish cuisine or philately or the proprietor's childhood Pez dispenser collection, then we'll talk.

5371 said...

The country today is smart as hell. Folks are doing genetic engineering, building quantum computers...this far and away the smartest time in history.

So how did you get here?

Mr. Anon said...

"Bottledwater said...

Then why does the country now score so much higher on IQ tests? Don't confuse a lack of intellectualism with low IQ. The country today is smart as hell."

No, it isn't.

"Folks are doing genetic engineering, building quantum computers..."

Where's your quantum computer?

"this far and away the smartest time in history."

No, it isn't.

"Who cares about Bach?"

I wouldn't expect phillistines to care about it.

"Don't impose your cultural values on others."

As, you are attempting to do with your little diatribe?