Why Seinfeld took Leno's side over Conan

In The B.S. Report: 11/10 (a podcast), Bill Simmons has a revealing talk with "The War for Late Night" author Bill Carter about Conan, Leno, and Letterman.

Carter says Seinfeld took Leno's side because he felt "[Conan's] youth movement thing was against the old time comics." He summarizes Seinfeld's view this way:

You don't take the #1 guy off the air. You don't do it. I took myself off the air. That's one thing. You don't go to a guy who is #1 and tell him: "That's it. You're off the air." Who does that?

We're in show business. This is what we do. We're supposed to look for the best jobs. We're supposed to get them. We're supposed to pursue them. It's not right for Jay to walk off the stage and say, "It's all yours Conan, take it." You just don't do that in show business.

Here's the Google Books excerpt where Seinfeld gives his .02. Basically, he feels The Tonight Show is a meaningless concept since people never say "I'm doing The Tonight Show" and instead say "I'm doing Jay; I'm doing Dave; I'm doing Conan."

Carter ends the section by describing Seinfeld's frame of reference this way: "Jews do not celebrate martyrdom."


Daniel Winn said...

Finally someone agrees with me on this late night thing, very pleased it happens to be one of my idols. conan is great, but he handled this wrong.

Abbi Crutchfield said...

I like to imagine a world where Conan made ratings history on cable creating the new best platform to showcase stand-ups, Leno donned his blue jean shirt to host a hilarious web show about car expertise called "Denim's da Brakes", and history was made as a young, unknown, comedy writer named Abbi Crutchfield was passed the torch on the Tonight Show. And promptly turned it into an infomercial featuring products for curly hair.

Anonymous said...

Jay's a jerk, and so is Jerry.

Anonymous said...

Finally a grown up has come in and told the children what happens in the real (or in this case fake) world.
I love Conan, but Jerry is right here. The "shows" are B.S. the only thing that matters is the guy. And one other thing, ratings (and demographics) are ALL that matter.

Moving on/Subscribe to my newsletter

I only post on rare occasions here now. Subscribe to my Rubesletter  (it's at  mattruby.substack.com ) to get jokes, videos, essays, etc...