Friday, September 24, 2004

Late Night Tragedy

I was watching tv last night and decided that it would be good to see what comedic veterans Leno and Letterman had to offer. Now I have only heard limited ammounts of their stand up material that got them the job. I flipped on their shows and within moments the shame I felt made me turn the channel. Neither one has an impressive show that is capable of their qualities and skills. It is sad to watch two greats tread water with no help near is sight. Well the COB is right there behind them playing the game and waiting his turn.

Leno was on my tv for only three seconds. I flipped and saw Jay holding a zoo animal. Good-bye Jay. Nothing will ever clearly demonstrate the lack of ideas from the writing staff like ten minutes with monkeys, pigs, and baby tigers. The bit is so played as well. Jay fumbling around the animals afraid to engage with the animal out of a fear of an involuntary bladder. Ooh! Stop! Animal urination has never been so funny to people over the age of seven. The late night show format is to bring people on with new projects. Pretty sure animals have been a long tradition at the zoo.

Letterman for me is the show I watch on vacation. I would watch him more but I am not a fan of Paul Schafer, the illegitimate child of Rod Roddy. Anyway, Dave does a better job of selling the drama. The body language of the performer will indicate the confidence in the sketch. Look at how Dave does a better job then Jay. Dave has this great crap segment of will something "sink or float?" How one of the mighty has fallen into a fourth grade science experiment.

Remember the late night war? Ratings, animosity, revenge and above all fear of being second best. Jay and Dave have resolved things to the best they can. When the two were at eachother's throats it made the nation a separated community. By that viewers were brought together to see which show was best and then would make their decision and distance themselves from the other. I used to think that creativity only comes from frustration and disappointment. Both have made their mark on broadcast history and seem to be happy with rather different audiences. The Tonight Show is written to entertain the retirement communities around the nation. Late Night with David Letterman is written mainly to entertain future fraternity members of America.

In times like this I thank Conan O'Brien for being such a consistantly fresh comedian. Low tech humor with bold choices that make a dog puppet have their own comedy cd. Neither Jay or Dave have a spin off success. Plus the empathy of another tall man succeeding in the biz is always encouraging (Leno is like seven inches shorter than me). .

Two greats are now so contoured to a target audience that they forgot what got them the job in the first place. Taking chances. It is ironic that we will risk all we have to get to a goal, but instead of continuing the path of risks and uncertainty we choose to plateau our lives. Just like a heartbeat, the constant up and down lets you know you're alive, that plateau is not the high water mark we thought. Many times it is a self induced flat line.

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