Lynette Rice
January 03, 2008 AT 07:44 AM EST

Back after a nine-week hiatus because of the writers’ strike, Jay Leno didn’t waste any time during his Tonight Show monologue Wednesday before making a joke about the ongoing labor dispute and the lack of writers helping him out with the show. “Folks, let’s get right to it. A Jew, a Christian, and a muslim walk into a bar. The Jew says to the Muslim…see I have no idea what they say because there’s a writer’s strike. We don’t know what they say.

“As you know, we are in the middle of this writers’ strike here in Hollywood. It’s already cost the town over a half billion dollars. Five hundred million dollars! Or as Paul McCartney calls that, `a divorce.'”

Leno’s monologue, which he admitted to writing himself with a little help from his wife, included various explanations for why he resumed production today. “We had to come back because we have essentially 19 [writers] putting 160 [crew] people out of work.” He also said the public relies on his show for information they may not normally glean from the mainstream media. “For example, did you know that just three weeks ago, Idaho Senator Larry Craig married Britney Spears? Did you know that?'” he joked. “See, no one knew! This is the only place you will find that out.”

Over at Late Night, Conan O’Brien joked about how the ongoing strike has forced Americans to “read books and occasionally even speak to one another” while leaving his show in the lurch when it comes to his more popular features. “My biggest wish is that they get a great deal very quickly and get back here because we desperately need them on the show.  Think about it: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, The Masturbating Bear, The Walker Texas Ranger Lever – it’s all writing.  Well, not the Masturbating Bear.  That’s just instinct. “ 


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