David Letterman has been killing it the past few nights when it comes to the Jaypocalypse, in which he has a long-standing personal investment. But the most audacious and outrageously funny late-night take on the situation yet belongs to Jimmy Kimmel, who did his entire show last night as Jay Leno. See it here in its entirety:
The most attention-getting satiric bit was interviewing “Conan O’Brien.” (Played by Chevy Chase—who had a talk show on Fox! The meta just keeps coming, folks!) But the most devastating parts of the performance were the little digs at Leno and his style: the interminable high-fiving of anyone within a mile of the stage, and the reminder to the audience that “on my show, people applaud after each joke.”
Ouch. You have to see it. Above all, it’s another sign of how deep the sympathy is in the entertainment community for Conan O’Brien and how badly he got rogered. (A sentiment that, truth be told, has been out there for a while. When I was reporting my Leno cover story last summer, people unconnected with Conan—other network execs, performers, producers—would uniformly and without prompting volunteer how badly they thought O’Brien got hosed.) Kimmel, like a lot of comics, is from the Letterman school anyway and so his sympathies are not surprising. But, man.
This is also a cautionary sign for NBC and Leno himself of the PR danger that Leno is in as this thing drags out. I’m still not sure I yet buy the idea of Leno fans being turned off to his Tonight show by the controversy, but at some point this has got to sting.
Finally, it’s a reminder of something I too rarely point out: Jimmy Kimmel has developed himself a damn funny show over there at ABC, with nobody bothering him.