Dear NBC: We hope you will seriously consider our offer to help rehabilitate the image of late-night comedy personality Jay Leno. We’ve offered our expert advice to many celebrities, such as Lindsay Lohan, O.J. Simpson and “Screech” from “Saved by the Bell,” and everyone knows how well things turned out for them.
We make this offer because, frankly, Jay is definitely in need of help. Our most recent survey numbers show him to be one of the most hated people in the world, ahead of both Kim Jong-il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and just shy of Kathy Griffin from the E! Channel. The same poll shows that the only ones planning to watch him when he returns to 11:30 are nursing home residents who have no jurisdiction over the remote control, and who think he may possibly be Mike Douglas.
In contrast, nine out of 10 respondents gave Conan O’Brien, the man Leno displaced, a 98 percent or higher approval rating, which puts him on par with Jimmy Stewart, Mother Teresa and the Ninja Baby from YouTube. This is despite the fact that only two out of those 10 respondents ever watched his show.
So in order to get back in the good graces of the viewing public, it is our opinion that Jay should immediately undertake the following eight reparative actions:
1) On his first show back at 11:30, he should ask himself, “What the hell were you thinking?” For best results, he should first make sure to first get caught picking up a prostitute, and also, possibly, poisoning the water supply of a local preschool. Both of these would be an improvement on his current image.
2) He should surround himself by people who make him look classy and fair-minded by comparison, like Rod Blagojevich, the cast of “Jersey Shore” and, if available, Dick Cheney. (Note: Always make Cheney leave his rifle outside. Boy, did we learn that the hard way.)
3) Despite the brouhaha, people still have fond memories of Jay’s days as an affable stand-up comic in the 1980s. To evoke that period, he should have a plastic surgeon deflate him back to his 1980s size and shape, possibly by removing all the fluid that has apparently backed up inside his face.
4) Conan’s departure from the airwaves should leave Jay with the freedom to experiment with different types of comedy than what he’s done before. For instance, he should consider trying the kind where people laugh at the end. Just a thought.
5) Jay, an Andover, Mass. native, should drive to Boston in a truck and run for public office against Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, which is apparently enough to make anybody almost breathtakingly popular. But he should definitely not pose nude for Cosmo, at least not until after they drain all those fluids.
6) Jay should expand the scope of his “Jaywalking” segment beyond the obtuse people he usually mocks. For instance, maybe he could start berating 6-year-old girls for not knowing long division, or tripping mentally challenged people. Now, that’s Leno-style comedy!
7) He should introduce more bits based on grisly murders, like his groundbreaking O.J. material back in the ’90s. Remember the Dancing Itos? You don’t? Well, you’ve probably just suppressed them deep into your subconscious as a defense mechanism.
8) Or he may want to do what he probably should have done right off the bat, which is leave gracefully with his hundreds of millions of dollars and 14,000 cars, and let O’Brien have a chance. There are plenty of other platforms Jay could explore without kicking Conan to the curb.
Although if he pursues YouTube, he should proceed with caution. We think that Ninja Baby could kick his butt.
This column appeared originally in North Shore Sunday. Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/pchianca. To receive At Large by e-mail, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE.”