The grade-school antics of the Late Night Feud of 2013 may have officially concluded with NBC's announcement Wednesday that Jimmy Fallon would take over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno next February. But, come on, late-night television is full of comedic egos and big contracts — you thought they were going to stop the fun there? The whole gang got back to the schoolyard antics right away Wednesday night.
There was the obvious: a gracious Fallon, and a congratulatory Leno, who also continued his streak of bad NBC jokes, then added what seemed like an unnecessary dig at David Letterman — because he hasn't forgotten the Late Night Feud of the Early '90s either. But then there were the bullies and the forgotten geeks in the playground, getting in their last licks, or at least acknowledgments. Let's hand out a few grades.
Tactic No. 1: Rehash an Old Feud
The Bully: David Letterman
Considering Leno referenced the fight between himself and Letterman to replace Johnny Carson in his monologue last night, it only made sense that Letterman would take a similar tact. In fact, they made almost the same joke. Leno said he "had to call David Letterman and tell him he didn’t get the Tonight Show again." Letterman said: "I got a call from my mom today, she says, well, David I see you didn't get The Tonight Show again."
But Letterman decided to remind everyone of the whole Conan O'Brien thing, too "What could possibly go wrong?" he asked of NBC replacing Leno with a younger host. Of course, he said some nice things about Leno, who he has known for 38 years, but nothing seemed that genuine, especially since he decided to do make his long-time rival the subject of last night's Top Ten List. And a good Leno-in-denim joke always goes a long way:
Grade: A-. If anyone's allowed to be a bit of a pill about this whole thing, it's Dave.
Tactic No. 2: Make It All About You
The Bully: Jimmy Kimmel
The other Jimmy decided on a pretty, well, obvious gag about how he and Fallon have the same first names. (Oh, really?!) Kimmel announced that it was he who was going to take over The Tonight Show. (Really now?!) When Kimmel was informed that it was, in fact, Jimmy Fallon who was getting the gig, he said, "Does anyone know what the return policy is on yachts?" (Come on, Kimmel, we all know you vacation with Jen Aniston and Co.) You can read his comments at The Hollywood Reporter. If you care.
Grade: C. You can do better.
Tactic No. 3: Simple Congratulations with a Hint of Resignation
The Bully: Conan O'Brien
It's got to be tough to be Conan right now, so he's stayed mostly quiet through this whole thing. And so he didn't even really make a joke last night: "I want to congratulate Jimmy, that is a really fun gig," he said to giggles. "It is," he said genuinely, "You laugh. It's a fun gig. And you know what, Jimmy is the perfect guy to do it. He's going to do a fantastic job so congratulations Jimmy." Sweet.
Grade: B. Not necessarily memorable, but a nice acknowledgement.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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