In a refreshing sign of empathy for his competitor, David Letterman expressed surprise during his Late Show monologue Wednesday that NBC would allow Jay Leno to leave his job while he’s on top.
“Now earlier today, NBC announced that Jimmy Fallon will take over for Jay Leno as host of the Tonight Show in February of 2014. This is – something’s wrong here,” according to a Late Show transcript released by CBS. “This happened once before with Conan O’Brien, and then they had to bring Jay back, and so he had to start his show all over again, and now it looks like the same thing is happening. And I just – I don’t get this. He’s retiring, so it says, and good for him. I’ve known him 38 years. I’ve known Jay Leno for 38 years, thank you. I don’t know what aspect of that you’re applauding, but thank you…So now he’s out again, but going out on top. So congratulations to Jay, a job well done. And, I mean, how many times can a guy be pushed out of the job, I mean. And what’s the matter with NBC? What’s the matter with these guys? You know, honestly, what are they thinking?”
Earlier in the show that was taped in New York today, Letterman made a series of quips that relate to his previous life at NBC. “I got a call from my mom today, she says, ‘Well, David, I see you didn’t get the Tonight Show again.” “It seems like we just went through this,” Letterman continued. “Didn’t we just go through this? Jay Leno now is being replaced, and this is the second time this has happened. I mean, it’s crazy. He’s being replaced by a younger late night talk show host – what could possibly go wrong? Honestly. They had pretty good luck with this in the past. But NBC, God bless ‘em, announced the official date for Jay Leno’s departure – no mention of his official date of return, however. I happen to know Jay’s got another job on network that has greater viewership, higher ratings – Univision. He’s going there.”
Letterman also paid Leno the ultimate compliment by devoting his Top 10 list to him, three of which were released:
No. 5: If you broke down on the freeway, Jay was always right there with a camera crew to help.
No. 4. Can’t remember the name of the bit, but it’s the one where Jay is walking.
No 3. He’s mom’s favorite talk show host.
Check out a preview of the show below: