Thursday night, for the second time, Jay Leno resigned his commission on “The Tonight Show,” which he had captained from 1992, with time off for Conan O’Brien.
A victim of time, of corporate self-interest and the phenomenon that is his successor, Jimmy Fallon, he left this time without a fight. He went gently out of that late night.
There are two ways, roughly speaking, to face the end of the world. You go crazy and forget the rules — or you do what you always have done, show up for work, cook the dinner, clean the house.
There was a moderate amount of crazy over the course of Leno’s last hour, but it was mostly business as usual, with old friends, talking about old times, on familiar ground, telling the same kinds of jokes about the expected subjects. Thursday night’s monologue covered Justin Bieber, the Olympics and, naturally, NBC.
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