November 12, 1992

Jay Leno, almost human

During his interrupted 22-year run as host of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno cared about one thing: jokes. On the day of a show, he often read jokes for up to five hours, right through rehearsal, culling them from 500 down to 150, and on and on, until he had assembled that night’s 14-minute monologue.

On Friday night, nine months after surrendering The Tonight Show to Jimmy Fallon, Leno returned to tell jokes. He did six minutes of stand-up — benign bits about flip phones, soccer and steroids. It wasn’t event television, but he displayed some of that aw-come-on attitude that made him one of the comedians of record during the 1980s. Often criticized as a joke delivery system uninterested in his own guests, Leno was almost human.



Leno has always been a better talk show guest than host. He was the most frequent and popular guest on Late Night with David Letterman (1982-93), making more than 60 appearances. Even after he became host of The Tonight Show, Leno was relaxed and interesting on Dennis Miller Live, candid on Politically Incorrect and then Real Time with Bill Maher and most at home last year with Jerry Seinfeld on Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

There are two keys to a great talk show appearance by Leno — his relationship with the host and the more relaxed dress code. Leno came of age as a comedian with Letterman, Miller, Maher and Seinfeld in the 1970s and 80s. He knows them well. On their shows, Leno doesn’t wear a tie, and his hair is mussed. He is himself.

Leno was especially good with Miller on June 20, 1997, when the subject was the state of film. He ripped dumb, loud action movies like Speed 2 and Con Air. “It’s economics,” he said. “You can’t hire ushers to keep people quiet in the theater anymore. So if you just make the movie loud enough, then it doesn’t matter if people are talking, because you can’t hear what they’re saying anyway.” He praised the film-noir classic The Third Man and the small, independent Swingers. “I’m fascinated by the words people are saying,” he said. But “movies are now the equivalent of a vibrating sex object. Technically, it’s very good. There’s just no soul or emotion to it.”



The premise of Comedians in Cars is just what is says: two comedians hang out while driving a classic car — the perfect forum for Leno, who owns more than 250 vintage cars and motorcycles. When Leno appeared on the web series last season, he and Seinfeld reveled in its contrast to conventional talk shows.

SEINFELD: You can’t have a conversation like this in a real interview.

LENO: What is a Jay Leno? You have those kind of conversations. What makes you tick? I’m not ticking. I’m telling jokes. I’m not ticking.

SEINFELD: I’m not ticking.

LENO: Don’t say I’m ticking.



Leno isn’t done as a talk show guest. CBS announced last week that he will be the last guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on Dec. 19. Ferguson is leaving the show after almost 10 years. While Leno deserved the criticism he received for the coup of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, which was engineered by his former manager Helen Kushnick, and his role in Conan O’Brien quitting The Tonight Show four years ago, Ferguson has always been an opponent of the late night wars. The booking seems like a tribute to Leno’s years of late night service.

The most interesting version of Leno may be the hyper-realized one he played two years ago on the FX series Louie. On the show, Louis C.K. is auditioning to replace the retiring Letterman after a star-making performance on Leno. When Louie asks Leno if he should take the job, Leno say no. “You’re the hip guy,” he says. “You’re the cool guy. That used to be me. But then you got to do 14 minutes every single night. Nobody is hip every single night. I wish somebody had told me that.” It was a human moment.

October 9, 1992

Jan Hooks

Jan Hooks played first ladies Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton, martyred wives Tammy Faye Bakker and Ivana Trump, sexy icons Ann-Margret and Sally Kellerman, along with Sinead O’Connor, Kathie Lee Gifford, Jessica Hahn, Bette Davis, Diane Sawyer and Tammy Wynette during her five seasons on Saturday Night Live [1986-91].

A virtuoso impressionist and the ultimate utility player, Hooks disappeared into characters on a show built around men and superstars like Dana Carvey and Mike Myers. She was the glue girl. Only the absence of a breakout character separated Hooks from greater fame. The closest she came was Candy Sweeney, one half of the lounge singing Sweeney Sisters.

Jan Hooks died yesterday from an undisclosed illness. She was 57.



Hooks joined the cast of SNL during the 1986-87 season with Carvey, Phil Hartman, Kevin Nealon, Nora Dunn and Victoria Jackson. Jon Lovitz and Dennis Miller were holdovers from the previous season. That group revived the iconic series, which was on the verge of cancellation.

“That show changed my life,” Hooks said in the book Live from New York, an oral history of the show.

In the same book, Jackson said: “In my audition, when Lorne [Michaels] said I think you’re weak in characters, I said, ‘Oh, well, you know who’s the greatest female character in America? Jan Hooks.’ She would just go into these people and I thought she was, like, great. … I thought she was, like, a genius, so I told Lorne.”

Hooks was such a genius and so underrated that it is worth wondering what her work on SNL might have looked like in the 21st century, when the series has been dominated by women. Tina Fey was one of the show’s head writers from 1999 to 2006, an era that featured Molly Shannon, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph. Kristen Wiig was the unquestioned star of her tenure [2005-12]. The current cast includes Vanessa Bayer, Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon, the kind of do-everything performer reminiscent of Hooks.


June 15, 1992

NBA awards [1991-92]



On Nov. 7, 1991, Magic Johnson announced he was HIV-positive and retired. He returned to play in the All-Star Game, winning the game’s MVP award. Larry Bird retired at the end of the season because of back problems. They played together during the 1992 Olympics.

Wilt Chamberlain Award | Michael Jordan [Bulls] 30.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 53.3 2-point shooting, 83.2 free throw shooting, 2.3 steals.

2. Karl Malone [Jazz]
3. David Robinson [Spurs]
4. Clyde Drexler [Trail Blazers]
5. Patrick Ewing [Knicks]

Rookie of the Year | Larry Johnson [Hornets] 19.2 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 49.4 2-point shooting, 82.9 free throw shooting.

Defensive Player of the Year | David Robinson [Spurs] 2.3 steals, 4.5 blocks.

Sixth Man Award | Detlef Schrempf [Pacers] 17.3 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 55.4 2-point shooting, 82.8 free throw shooting.



FIRST TEAM |

Forward | Karl Malone [Jazz] 28.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 53.0 2-point shooting, 77.8 free throw shooting. Age [28]

Forward | Scottie Pippen [Bulls] 21.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 52.5 2-point shooting, 76.0 free throw shooting. Age [26]

Center | David Robinson [Spurs] 23.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 55.4 2-point shooting, 70.1 free throw shooting, 2.3 steals, 4.5 blocks. Age [26]

Guard | Michael Jordan [Bulls] 30.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 53.3 2-point shooting, 83.2 free throw shooting, 2.3 steals. Age [28]

Point guard | John Stockton [Jazz] 15.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 13.7 assists, 50.3 2-point shooting, 40.7 3-point shooting, 84.2 free throw shooting, 3.0 steals. Age [29]



SECOND TEAM |

Forward | Charles Barkley [76ers] 23.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 59.7 2-point shooting, 69.5 free throw shooting. Age [28]

Forward | Chris Mullin [Warriors] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]

Center | Brad Daugherty [Cavaliers] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]

Guard | Clyde Drexler [Trail Blazers] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]

Point guard | Tim Hardaway [Warriors] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]



THIRD TEAM |

Forward | Horace Grant [Bulls] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]

Forward | Larry Nance [Cavaliers] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]

Center | Patrick Ewing [Knicks] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]

Point guard | Kevin Johnson [Suns] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]

Guard | Jeff Hornacek [Suns] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]



HONORABLE MENTION |

Center | Hakeem Olajuwon [Rockets] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]

Point guard | Mark Price [Cavaliers] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]

Forward | Dennis Rodman [Pistons] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]

Forward | Kevin Willis [Hawks] xx.x points, x.x rebounds, x.x assists, xx.x 2-point shooting, xx.x free throw shooting. Age [xx]



Best team | U.S. Olympic team | Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, John Stockton. | Oral History
— Kevin Brewer

May 22, 1992

Saturday Night Live and 40 years of variety

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE [1975-76 to 1978-79]



http://www.hulu.com/watch/4112

Cast | John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase (1975-76), Bill Murray (1977-79), Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris

Producer | Lorne Michaels

Head writer | Michael O’Donoghue

No. 1 challenger | The Muppet Show

No. 2 challenger | The Richard Pryor Show


THE TONIGHT SHOW starring JOHNNY CARSON [1979-80 to 1980-81]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KF9jcrq_U0E

Executive producer | Fred de Cordova

Head writer | Raymond Siller


SCTV NETWORK [1981-82 to 1982-83]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GqbCrsfrfs

Cast | John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Martin Short

Executive producers | Andrew Alexander, Charles Allard, Len Stuart, Jack E. Rhodes

Challengers | Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman


LATE NIGHT with DAVID LETTERMAN [1983-84 to 1986-87]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iu5W3L0w3w

Executive producer | Jack Rollins

Producer | Barry Sand

Head writer | Steve O’Donnell

Challengers | The Tracey Ullman Show (1986-87), Saturday Night Live (1986-87)


SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE [1987-88 to 1988-89]



http://www.hulu.com/watch/19590

Cast | Phil Hartman, Dana Carvey, Jan Hooks, Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, Kevin Nealon, Nora Dunn, Victoria Jackson

Producer | Lorne Michaels

Head writer | Jim Downey

Challengers | Late Night with David Letterman, The Arsenio Hall Show (1988-89), The Tracey Ullman Show


IN LIVING COLOR [1989-90 to 1990-91]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azmcjwPxbdE

Cast | Keenen Ivory Wayans, James Carrey, Kelly Coffield, Kim Coles, Tommy Davidson, David Alan Grier, T’Keyah “Crystal” Keyman, Damon Wayans, Kim Wayans

Executive producer | Keenan Ivory Wayans

Challengers | Late Night with David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, The Tracey Ullman Show


THE TONIGHT SHOW starring JOHNNY CARSON [1991-92]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iE6XQtZvdHY

Executive producer | Fred de Cordova

Executive producer | Peter Lassally

Challengers | In Living Color, Late Night with Letterman and Saturday Night Live


THE BEN STILLER SHOW [1992-93]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5IrRe2F7qY

Cast | Ben Stiller, Bob Odenkirk, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Dick

Executive producer | Judd Apatow

Challengers | Saturday Night Live, Late Night with David Letterman


LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN [1993-94 to 1994-95]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkzAL1h01Y4

“If you think about it, all I really did was take the summer off,” Dave said.

Executive producer | Peter Lassally

Executive producer | Robert Morton

Head writer | Rob Burnett

Challengers | Dennis Miller Live, Politically Incorrect, The Kids in the Hall


DENNIS MILLER LIVE [1995-96]

Challengers | Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Late Show with David Letterman, Politically Incorrect


LATE NIGHT with CONAN O’BRIEN [1996-97 to 1999-2000]

Challengers | Dennis Miller Live, Late Show with David Letterman, Politically Incorrect, Mr. Show with Bob and David, The Chris Rock Show


THE DAILY SHOW with JON STEWART [2000-01]

Challengers | Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Politically Incorrect, The Chris Rock Show, Saturday Night Live


LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN [2001-02]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBLgp1qTCTg

Executive producer | Rob Burnett

Executive producer | Barbara Gaines

Executive producer | Maria Pope

Head writers | Justin Stangel and Eric Stangel

Challengers | The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Politically Incorrect, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O’Brien


CHAPPELLE’S SHOW [2002-03 to 2003-04]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eHMgXlugIU

Cast | Dave Chappelle, Donnell Rawlings, Neal Brennan, Charlie Murphy, Paul Mooney

Executive producers | Michele Armour, Neal Brennan and Dave Chappelle

Challengers | Late Show with David Letterman, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Conan O’Brien


THE DAILY SHOW with JON STEWART [2004-05]

Challengers | Da Ali G Show, Real Time with Bill Maher


THE COLBERT REPORT [2005-06 to 2006-07]

Challengers | The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Real Time with Bill Maher, Late Show with David Letterman


REAL TIME with BILL MAHER [2007-08 to 2008-09]

Challengers | Saturday Night Live, The Colbert Report


THE TONIGHT SHOW with CONAN O’BRIEN [JANUARY 2010]



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzqaNekw9RA

Executive producer | Jeff Ross

Head writers | Mike Sweeney