But Brooks assured Jay that he still had “some stuff” left over from the “Letterman” appearance that he planned on using on “The Tonight Show.”
It was a rare occurrence for the ultra-competitive world of late-night TV — a late-night guest actually discussing the fact that he appeared on a rival show first. The late-night shows compete fiercely for guest bookings, and a pecking order has developed over the years, primarily according to the size of each show’s audience but also, somewhat, to their relative locations in either New York or Los Angeles.
The booking wars are so competitive that few entertainers could get away with talking about a prior appearance on another show (especially on the highest-rated late-night show of them all — “The Tonight Show”), but Brooks, 65, has known both Leno and Letterman forever, and he’s close in age to both of them (Leno is 62, and Letterman is 65).
“Listen, let’s be honest here,” Brooks said to Leno just after coming on stage carrying a plain, brown paper bag and taking his seat in the guest chair. “I’ve been on a promotional tour for [his newest movie] ‘This is 40’ and I did do ‘Letterman’ last week.
“But I just want you to know I did crap on that show!” he assured Jay.
And Leno couldn’t stop laughing. “Really? What does that mean? What are you saying?” he asked Brooks.
“That means I saved some stuff for you!” Brooks answered.
“Oh, the good stuff! Thank you,” Jay said.
To which Brooks pointed out that he didn’t say “good stuff.” He just said “some stuff.”
Like Martin Short and a small handful of late-night guests, Brooks comes on the shows with bits he prepares in advance. For the “Letterman” show last week, he told Dave that he came to his show prepared to tell him a few entertaining anecdotes but he felt obligated to “admit” at the outset that the stories he would soon be telling were all lies. And then Brooks told the stories anyway. And because he had already set up the audience not to believe them, they came across as even more hilarious.
On the “Leno” show, Brooks’ bit involved the paper bag and its contents, which turned out to be three products that he had arranged in advance to be sure and mention during his guest spot on “The Tonight Show.”
Complaining that the appearance paid him next to nothing, Brooks told Leno: “I sponsored out my segment here with you.” And then he blatantly promoted the products — 5-Hour Energy Drink, Listerine Mouthwash and Depend undergarments — in the context of his “conversation” with Leno.
Our take on this was that it was hilarious, but the “stuff” Brooks brought to the “Letterman” show was better. The bit about Depend undergarments was particularly tasteless, as you’ll see if you watch the clips from the “Leno” show, above.