I hope to God you folks aren’t thinking already that you’d like me to shut the fuck up about the late night wars already, because I love this stuff. I love the machinations, I love the posturing, and I love the way something like this really brings out the best in all the late-night hosts (save for Leno, who doesn’t really have a best). It’s inside baseball that gets blown up on the small screen, because talk show hosts are paid to talk about what’s in the news, and when they’re in the news, there’s no exception. They can’t hide behind PR statements; they have to go out and make the jokes, even if the jokes are about themselves.
So, I give Leno the smallest bit of credit for having the gumption to invite Jimmy Kimmel onto his show last night, two nights after Kimmel did his entire show as Leno. And if there is one thing about Kimmel that I can respect the hell out of, it’s that he doesn’t give a shit. He will say anything, without any regard for the consequences. This was best exemplified, perhaps, when he was on “Monday Night Football,” a couple of years ago, after he insinuated — on the air — that Tony Kornheiser engineered Joe Theismann’s ouster. It was one of the few unhinged on-the-air moments ever on a national football broadcast. And, of course, it got Kimmel banned from “Monday Night Football.”
Leno probably should’ve thought back to that night before he decided to “be the bigger man” or whatever and invite Kimmel on his show, because Kimmel trashed him, and Leno couldn’t say a fucking thing about it. He basically just stands there and takes it. I hope to God this video gets passed around the Internet all goddamn day. It’s beautiful in his sublime awkwardness — if Leno wasn’t such a slimeball, I’d almost feel bad for him.