For the first time since March 14, Jay Leno’s monologue Monday night contained no jokes about NBC, nor any other kind of reference to his job status.
It was a marked change from the monologues he had been delivering on “The Tonight Show” ever since he returned from a one-week hiatus on Monday, March 11, and launched a string of jibes referring to NBC’s low prime-time ratings and the plan NBC is reportedly formulating to replace Leno with Jimmy Fallon next year.
Leno kept up the jokes on March 12, then took a break on March 13 and 14. Then, on Friday, March 15, the jokes returned, partly because of the day’s date, and also because one of Jay’s guests that night was a fellow late-night host, Craig Ferguson of “Late Late Show” on CBS.
“Today [March 15] is the Ides of March,” Jay said that evening, ushering in a daily streak of NBC jokes that didn’t end ’til Monday (March 25). “This is when Julius Caesar was stabbed in the back by the people he trusted. Not a good day to be working at NBC!”
But on the first night of “Tonight” shows this week, Jay took a break.
Elsewhere on late-night TV, Conan O’Brien returned Monday night to his TBS talk show after a weeklong break and made no mention of the Leno-Fallon situation. Certainly, a jab at NBC or Leno or both may have been appropriate from O’Brien, who figured prominently in the last drama that unfolded at NBC over “The Tonight Show” in 2010 — when Leno returned to replace him in 2010.
But on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” Monday night, Fallon actually broke into a brief but very accurate impersonation of O’Brien — an impression we don’t remember seeing Fallon do before. It was not a comment on the current late-night turmoil at NBC, but it is worth watching.