Jay Leno Gagged, But Not Bound (Dammit!)

Filed Under Late Night

Since Jay Leno may end up testifying in the Michael Jackson case, there’s a gag order limiting what he can say about the trial. As has been suggested, Leno is using others to tell his Jacko jokes for him until the matter is clarified. But wouldn’t it have been nice to see some kind of accord between Late Night shows that Michael Jackson jokes are done. Let’s just ignore it and mine other territory.

Monologue jokes, to me, are the ultimate in non-funny funny. They have no surprise… they play off well-worn caricatures that everybody knows. And worse, they don’t really say anything about the subjects they target.

An example: Star Jones is often slammed in late night for being fat (in admittedly inventive ways, on Conan he jokes that one of Star’s furs extincts three species). Weight’s a traditional target, so these jokes could be about anyone. Think of another fat personality and you have essentially the same jokes.

On a recent Daily Show, Jon ran a clip of Star referencing how late night comics often make jokes about her weight. Jon quickly clarified that he’s never jokes about her weight, rather that she “lives three feet up her own ass.” And that target is a far better one. Not only is it more specific to Star, it also captures the lack of self-awareness and ego that makes her so reprehensible. Who cares if she’s fat? Being fat has nothing to do with what’s wrong with her and her behavior.

I’m glad to see Leno is being inventive in how he’ll target Michael Jackson, but I can’t help but wish he’d use as an opportunity to pick other targets far worthier of gags.

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