Dave, Jay Leno, David Letterman discussed on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

I can't believe forgotten all that material actually pretty funny yeah. It's pretty solid I. I really like I mean you know. Genocide is fundamentally tragic etc but I like the idea that genocide is something that let's do the gang's all here. The real trick is no letterman sensibilities. Sensibilities and Letterman is an excellent wordsmith. He was always a great wordsmith and to me. I always get annoyed at comics. I am not against obscenity. It's fine. I just find it boring. I don't find it as a punchline. Here's somebody call somebody in a whole. That's not really funny. So when Dave I always to try to come up with names that would I know he would laugh at us at the carnival may have these syphilis druids running dry run on the right say they have no shirts on and he would would go Leonard Druids. It's right David and he and I would just go back and forward over that all the time. Maybe the greatest connoisseur of like a super flat word dislike that way. I mean I remember one time. We're talking. I never even got to the punchline but it was. I said you know the old Manson place the other day just to see some of the got all the old Manson. Oh you know it hasn't changed. Dave you know since sixty nine and we just started with. Dave kept repeating what I would say over and over again. It was just very funny it. There's a lot of fun. I don't know how many people are close with David Letterman but the two of you had known each other for a really long time and weren't at the very least least friendly colleagues. Do the two of you ever talk about the tonight show before Carson retired. I think Dave took a pretty hard when he didn't get it. I think so too to characterization sure sure yeah. It was one of those you know it's interesting. I like to think it worked out well because he got the critical acclaim and I got the popular vote and we each left with something okay. I was the guy you know the gut. The highest rating Nice Number Day was the acerbic guide sharp and all the critics loved him the best and that's okay. I mean that's fine. You can't everything but Yeah I. I say. That was extremely difficult for him. I don't think he hated me. I think he hated the way it turned out and I became the butt of a lot of the jokes folks and stuff and the reason I asked if the two of you had ever talked about it before Carson retired is because it feels to me only having read about it you were there but it feels to me only having read about it that like it was there was an an absence of communication between two friends about something who shared this same goal of which only one person can have it and maybe you thought you know this is my dream. I hope they pick me and he thought maybe that they you know they had already implicitly picked him. Maybe you thought they had already implicitly permanent guest. What happened was I think Dave did not get along with the suits at NBC yeah and I think there was a lot out of he would mock them on the air all kinds of stuff and they took it pretty seriously. I remember one executive said to me. You know I didn't WanNA. Put Up the twenty years of that. I went okay. I guess that was you know and Jack. Welch was a pretty Jack. Welch was running. NBC At the time the head guy and he made decisions and he would go pretty hard at the company enjoyed. It wasn't like I think in later years he would joke about the CBS Primetime lineup right successful in a kind of relatively gentle way most people aren't mocking their own network and relatively gentle but he would go pretty hard in the on late night at the company in general right right right well yeah and and I think that that played a role in a two but ultimately all of it comes down to finances. It's where they think they can make the most money and that's really it's a business decision. You know the idea that one one person will you stole the show well. If I'm so smart. How did I lose it. In the first place I would always have the ridiculous ridiculous theories that the network doc had to pay me one hundred and fifty million all they didn't and they don't do that. You know it's just the only thing I ever had was different than anybody else. Had I always had a pay. A and play contract not pay or play people love pair play like so if you don't work they have to pay you and my attitude resorts. If if you don't work you had no value. Oh you to them so they just paying you just go away. Just get Outta here. We don't even want you anymore so I never took money for not working so all my contract. If I had a five of your contract they had to keep me on the played-out. Was it hard to enjoy the fact that you had achieved the dream of have teenage Jay Leno given that you were surrounded by public weirdness and especially given that it was an with an ultrasound yeah. It was hard to but I again I didn't. I never tried to believe the good stuff and I never tried to believe the bad add stuff so I mean you know what's funny. This is the greatest time in my life right now. I'm just having a ball a comedian now and I'm well know when you start most comedians to tell you. They'll say it took me five minutes but I got him up there twenty minutes before I got him or I never got him but there's always a time when you got him. Now you got them. The Mitch Walk Out on stage. You just have to keep them which is actually easier and and in and more and more fun. Yeah I've done a lot of comedy shows for fans of mine yeah and it's a very different experience than when my comedy partner her and I hosted a show at the Ice House for a month or two two strangers. You'd like people who like you going in. It is dramatically different right right but the affirmation of strangers is the greatest thing about being a comic. You don't want your friends in the audience and radio. It's almost it's not impossible. Make the jump from from radio to stand up but in some ways it is because radio my favorite thing is when I go to a town and hey jay the breakfast flakes. They're going to open for you in in the morning the morning zoo. They got how long do twenty five minutes right so you guys got. Hey Jay. We do five hours every morning. Okay I think we can do twenty minutes. Okay Great. I'm sitting there. They're out there two minutes. Okay please walk up Jila Jake because it's the exact opposite officers of having an act well. Having an act is the economy of words. It's the ability to have a joke every six to nine seconds but taking every six or nine seconds anything longer than that the boy they get a little bored so you've just gotTa keep it boom boom boom and my favorite okay here's his when you hear a Dj they were talking to this. You know here in the United States of America the greatest country in the world by the way I think we all agree with that or you know here in the US okay but you as a DJ. You're watching the clock. He got five hours to fill you. Just gotTa keep you gotTa keep the words coming and whether funny you're not you've got. You've got space to fill whereas a STANDUP. You've gotTa have jokes in every one of those spaces or you're just you're following the most legendary legendary late night television host in American history when you took over the tonight show right and somebody that you personally admired and professionally admired was there. Were there things that you thought are going to be the Jay. Leno things about well tonight. Show started. We were live live live for the first two or three weeks which means no edit no cue cards no nathen. I just had to I you just memorize the monologue because it was you know it was it was weird when I took over because there's a lot of animosity and you know I brought in kind of a different band and you know always just it was just a lot of animosity and and in some ways it was made especially tricky by the fact that I I don't know whether we're following the summer. Olympics whatever it was but there was some reason we were live live so the monologue had to be within six or ten seconds or when it needed to be and all of that you know so you had to keep all those balls in the air at the same time so it yeah it was. It was tricky tricky but I I. I like like pressure. I I work well under pressure. I like having a deadline. I liked that I liked pressure. What did you think was going to be different about the way that you did things. I had no idea I had no idea you just go out and you do what you try and find the things that work for you. The headlines always worked for me. Jaywalking worked for me initially. It didn't work work because I was doing johnny show Johnny Stage and in those days the tight shows set was here and then about thirty to forty feet away. You had these seats. It's a little bit went straight up like in a Broadway theatre almost like you're hanging and it was such a weird thing to look up to look up in this in the air and see the audience. I mean look normal on TV because Johnny's head would be high but you everybody was up there and and I just felt uncomfortable and we went to New York. I said to Don Omar's. Can we just move the people literally. Put Him on the stage. So what I walked out. I could shake hands and I could you know and I could see people's faces. Jason see the rise in his Co.. Suddenly it became much more normal to me and that's what we did. We eventually built a set so I had real close contact with people in necessary. I mean you're much warmer performer than Carson ever was and I don't mean that as a criticism of Carson I just talked about how amazing it. It was how cool he was like your well. I generally like people you know. I like to talk to people I find people pretty funny. I am very optimistic. Missing Person I think ultimately people do the right thing. I know that sounds naive but I you know I read this thing once at one in every six hundred people as a criminal and if you live in villages six hundred people you don't catch the guy you gotTa crimewave because this guy's every day and we have a cottam and it seems like everybody's evil terrible no that guy. It's just get that guy and you're fine and that's my that's why I've always been you know I always you play an audience audience like it's an orchestra. You'd learn how to read crowd. You know I remember once. I had a Hillary Clinton joke. I it's escapes me what it was when she was running for president. Sir and I didn't like the laughing because the audiences laughing I felt they were laughing at it because she was a woman and not because she was a candidate. It was kind of joke where I went. I would hear Ya like a real male guttural. I said Oh man I just I just didn't didn't like so.

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