The Tonight Show
|The Tonight Show|
|Created by||Steve Allen
William O. Harbach
Sylvester L. Weaver, Jr.
|Presented by||Steve Allen (1954–57)
Jack Paar (1957–62)
Johnny Carson (1962–92)
Jay Leno (1992–2009, 2010–2014)
Conan O'Brien (2009–10)
Jimmy Fallon (beginning 2014)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||2,000 (before Carson)
|Location(s)||New York City 1954–57, 1957–72, beginning 2014
Chicago (Tonight! America After Dark) 1957
Los Angeles (Tonight! America After Dark) 1957, 1972–2014
|Production company(s)||NBC Productions (1954–96)
Tonight Show Company, LLC. (1962–80)
Carson Productions (1980–92)
Big Dog Productions (1992–2009, 2010–14)
NBC Studios (1996–2004)
NBC Universal Television Studio (2004–2007)
Universal Media Studios (2007–11)
Universal Television (2011–present)
|Picture format||480i SDTV (1954–99)
1080i HDTV (1999–present)
|Original run||September 27, 1954– present|
The Tonight Show is an American late-night talk show that has aired on NBC since 1954. Recorded in Los Angeles, it is the longest currently running regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States and the third longest-running show on NBC after Meet the Press and Today. The question as to whether it is the longest-running entertainment program in the world is a matter of debate, the Irish series The Late Late Show, which debuted in 1962, has run continuously in the same format and is a claimant to the title, whereas Tonight underwent significant changes in format and title during its history.
The Tonight Show was hosted by Steve Allen (1954–57), Jack Paar (1957–62), Johnny Carson (1962–92), Jay Leno (1992–2009, 2010–present), and Conan O'Brien (2009–10). Several guest hosts also appeared, particularly during the Paar and Carson eras.
The longest-serving host to date was Johnny Carson, who hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 30 seasons from the fall of 1962 through the spring of 1992. The current host of the show is Jay Leno, who had hosted the show from 1992 to 2009 and began his second tenure on March 1, 2010.
On April 3, 2013, NBC announced Jimmy Fallon would become the new host of The Tonight Show. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon will premiere February 24, 2014, the day after the closing ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
- 1 Hosting history
- 1.1 Steve Allen (1954–57)
- 1.2 Tonight! America After Dark (1957)
- 1.3 Jack Paar (1957–62)
- 1.4 Transition from Paar to Carson (1962)
- 1.5 Johnny Carson (1962–92)
- 1.6 Jay Leno (1992–2009)
- 1.7 Conan O'Brien (2009–10)
- 1.8 Leno's second tenure (2010–14)
- 1.9 Jimmy Fallon (beginning February 2014)
- 2 Music and announcers
- 3 Broadcasting milestones
- 4 Gag, skit, and segments
- 5 Time slots and International broadcasts
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
NBC's Broadway Open House which began in 1950 first demonstrated the potential for late-night network programming. The format for The Tonight Show can be traced to a nightly 40 minute local New York show hosted by Allen, originally titled The Knickerbocker Beer Show (after the sponsor) but quickly retitled The Steve Allen Show, which premiered in 1953 on WNBT. Beginning in September 1954, it was renamed Tonight! and shown on the full NBC network.
|Host||From||To||Notes||# of episodes|
|Steve Allen||September 27, 1954||32||January 25, 1957||35||Tonight Starring Steve Allen||2,000[tablenote 1]|
|Ernie Kovacs||October 1, 1956||37||January 22, 1957||37||Monday-Tuesday host|
|Jack Lescoulie||January 28, 1957||44||June 21, 1957||44||Today veteran hosted format switch to news program Tonight! America After Dark|
|Al "Jazzbo" Collins||June 24, 1957||38||July 26, 1957||38||Replaced Lescoulie, who remained on Today|
|Jack Paar||July 29, 1957||39||March 30, 1962||43||Format switch to talk show; also called Tonight Starring Jack Paar and Jack Paar Tonight|
|Various hosts||April 2, 1962||N/A||September 28, 1962||N/A||Interlude between Paar and Carson eras. Guest hosts included Groucho Marx, Merv Griffin, Bill Cullen, Jerry Lewis, and Mort Sahl.|
|Johnny Carson||October 1, 1962||36||May 22, 1992||66||The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson||4,531[tablenote 2]|
|Jay Leno||May 25, 1992||42||May 29, 2009||59||The Tonight Show with Jay Leno||4,429[tablenote 3]|
|Conan O'Brien||June 1, 2009||46||January 22, 2010||46||The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien||146|
|Jay Leno||March 1, 2010||59||February 6, 2014||63||The Tonight Show with Jay Leno||[tablenote 3]|
- Notes for hosting history
- Includes episodes hosted by all hosts prior to Johnny Carson.
- Not including guest hosted or Weekend Tonight Show/Best of Carson episodes
- As of March 21, 2013
Steve Allen (1954–57)
The very first Tonight announcer was Gene Rayburn. Allen's version of the show originated talk show staples such as an opening monologue, celebrity interviews, audience participation, and comedy bits in which cameras were taken outside the studio, as well as music including guest performers and a house band under Lyle "Skitch" Henderson.
When the show became a success, Allen got a prime time Sunday comedy/variety show in June 1956, leading him to share Tonight hosting duties with Ernie Kovacs during the 1956–57 season. To give Allen time to work on his Sunday evening show, Kovacs hosted Tonight on Monday and Tuesday nights with his own announcer (Bill Wendell) and bandleader.
During the later Steve Allen years, regular audience member Lillian Miller became such an integral part that she was forced to join American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the television/radio performers union.
Allen and Kovacs departed Tonight in January 1957 after NBC ordered Allen to concentrate all his efforts on his Sunday night variety program, hoping to combat CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show's dominance of the Sunday night ratings.
Unlike the first installment of Johnny Carson's tenure, which is lost except for audio recordings, a kinescope recording of the opening monologue from the very first Tonight Show under Allen survives in which he accurately states "this show is going to go on forever".
Tonight! America After Dark (1957)
Rather than continuing with the same format after Allen and Kovacs' departure from Tonight, NBC changed the show's format to a news and features show, similar to that of the network's popular morning program Today. The new show, renamed Tonight! America After Dark, was hosted first by Jack Lescoulie and then by Al "Jazzbo" Collins, with interviews conducted by Hy Gardner, and music provided by the Lou Stein Trio (later replaced by the Mort Lindsey Quartet, then the Johnny Guarnieri Quartet). This new version of the show was unpopular, resulting in a significant number of NBC affiliates dropping the show.
Jack Paar (1957–62)
In July 1957, NBC returned the program to a talk/variety show format once again, with Jack Paar becoming the new solo host of the show. Under Paar, most of the NBC affiliates which had dropped the show during the ill-fated run of America After Dark began airing the show once again. Paar's era began the practice of branding the series after the host, and as such the program, though officially still called The Tonight Show, was marketed as The Jack Paar Show. A combo band conducted by Paar's Army buddy pianist Jose Melis filled commercial breaks and backed musical entertainers. [See music and announcers below.] Paar also introduced the idea of having guest hosts; one of these early hosts was Johnny Carson. It was one of the first regularly scheduled shows to be videotaped in color.
On 11 February 1960 Jack Paar walked off his show — an absence which lasted almost a month — after NBC censors edited out a segment taped the night before about a joke involving a "WC" (water closet, a polite term for a flush toilet) being confused for a "wayside chapel". As he left his desk, he said, "I am leaving The Tonight Show. There must be a better way of making a living than this". Paar's abrupt departure left his startled announcer to finish the broadcast himself.
Paar returned to the show on 7 March 1960, strolled on stage, struck a pose, and said, "As I was saying before I was interrupted ..." After the audience erupted in applause, Paar continued: "when I walked off, I said there must be a better way of making a living. Well, I've looked — and there isn't."
Transition from Paar to Carson (1962)
Citing that he would prefer to do one prime-time show per week rather than five late-night installments, Paar left the show in March 1962. The Jack Paar Show moved to prime time (as The Jack Paar Program) and aired weekly on Friday nights through 1965.
Johnny Carson was chosen as Paar's successor. Carson was host at the time of the weekday afternoon quiz show Who Do You Trust? on ABC. Because Carson was under contract through September to ABC and producer Don Fedderson (who held him to his contract until the day it expired) he could not take over as host until 1 October 1962. The months between Paar and Carson were filled by a series of guest hosts including Groucho Marx, Merv Griffin, Bill Cullen, Jerry Lewis, and Mort Sahl, some of whom later noted they were being led to believe they were auditioning for the job. Griffin was so well received as a guest host that NBC gave him his own daytime talk show, the first of three he would host in his broadcasting career, which debuted the same day Carson took over the late night show.
The show was broadcast under the title The Tonight Show during this interim, with Skitch Henderson returning as bandleader. Hugh Downs remained as announcer/sidekick until taking over hosting duties on Today in September, at which point he was replaced by Ed Herlihy.
Johnny Carson (1962–92)
Marx introduced Carson as the new host on 1 October 1962. Ed McMahon was Carson's announcer. The Tonight Show orchestra was for several years still led by Skitch Henderson. After a brief stint by Milton DeLugg, beginning in 1967 the "NBC Orchestra" was then headed by trumpeter Doc Severinsen who played in the band during the Henderson era. [See "Music and Announcers" below.] For all but a few months of its first decade on the air, Carson's Tonight Show was based in New York City. In May 1972, the show moved to Burbank, California into Studio One of NBC Studios West Coast (although it was announced as coming from nearby Hollywood) for the remainder of his tenure.
Jay Leno (1992–2009)
Johnny Carson retired on May 22, 1992, and was replaced by Jay Leno amid controversy. David Letterman not only wanted to move into that earlier time slot from his Late Night spot after The Tonight Show, but was considered by Carson and others as the natural successor (despite Leno having been Carson's permanent guest host for several years). Letterman, having had his heart set on the earlier time slot, left NBC and joined CBS. Late Show with David Letterman, airing in the same slot, has been competing head to head against The Tonight Show ever since. After Leno's run as host of The Tonight Show, Conan O'Brien took over as host.
Conan O'Brien (2009–10)
|Wikinews has related news: US TV host Conan O'Brien rejects NBC's offer to switch his show's time slot|
On September 27, 2004, the 50th anniversary of the show's premiere, NBC announced that Jay Leno would be succeeded by Conan O'Brien in 2009. Leno explained that in yielding to Conan, he wanted to avoid repeating the hard feelings that developed between him and David Letterman, and called O'Brien "certainly the most deserving person for the job." What was to be the final episode of The Tonight Show with Leno as host aired on Friday, May 29, 2009. O'Brien replaced Leno as host on The Tonight Show on Monday, June 1 from a new studio in Stage 1 of the Universal Studios Hollywood back lot, ending an era (since 1972) of recording the show in Burbank. Leno, meanwhile, went on to host The Jay Leno Show, a prime-time talk show which aired before O'Brien's Tonight Show.
Timeslot conflict and Leno's return
O'Brien's audience tailed off significantly compared to that of Leno; at one point he attracted two million fewer viewers than Letterman. While Leno's primetime show did fairly well, several NBC affiliates complained that it was hurting the ratings for their late newscasts.
On January 7, 2010, multiple media outlets reported that beginning March 1, 2010, Leno would move from his 10 p.m. weeknight time slot to 11:35 p.m. due to Leno and O'Brien's sagging ratings, as well as pressure from NBC affiliates. Leno's show would be shortened from an hour to 30 minutes. All NBC late night programming would be preempted by the 2010 Winter Olympics between February 15 and February 26. This would move The Tonight Show to 12:05 a.m., a post-midnight time slot for the first time in its history.
On January 10, NBC confirmed they would be moving Jay Leno out of primetime as of February 12 and intended to move him to late-night as soon as possible. TMZ reported that O'Brien was given no advance notice of this change, and that NBC offered him a choice: an hour-long 12:05 a.m. time slot, or the option to leave the network. On January 12, O'Brien issued a press release that stated he would not continue with Tonight if it was moved to a 12:05 a.m. time slot, saying, "I believe that delaying The Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't The Tonight Show."
On January 21, it was announced that NBC had struck a deal with O'Brien in which he would leave The Tonight Show and receive a $33 million payout. His staff of almost 200 would receive $12 million in their departure. O'Brien's final episode aired on Friday, January 22, and Jay Leno resumed hosting The Tonight Show on March 1, 2010. O'Brien returned to late-night television on November 8, 2010 (after his non-compete clause expired) hosting Conan on cable channel TBS.
Leno's second tenure (2010–14)
On March 1, 2010, Jay Leno returned to The Tonight Show, with Wally Wingert as his announcer. On April 12, 2010, bandleader Kevin Eubanks announced his departure after 18 years on May 28. He was replaced as bandleader by Rickey Minor on June 7. On July 1, 2010, Variety reported that only six months into its second life, Jay Leno's Tonight Show posted its lowest ratings since 1992. By September 2010, Leno's ratings had fallen below those of Conan O'Brien when he had hosted The Tonight Show. NBC ratings specialist Tom Bierbaum commented that due to the host being out of late-night television for a period of time and the subsequent 2010 Tonight Show conflict, Leno's ratings fall was "not a surprise at all". In October 2010, David Letterman beat Leno's program in the ratings, for the first time since Leno returned to hosting The Tonight Show. By May 2011, however, Leno regained the lead over Letterman and has held it ever since. By August 2012, The Los Angeles Times was reporting that The Tonight Show was in trouble for a number of reasons, notably that NBC has been losing money. The Times later elaborated, noting that advertising revenue from The Tonight Show had dropped more than 40% since 2007, from $255.9 million annually to $146.1 million. Still, despite these problems, during 2012–13, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno has consistently been the highest-ranking late-night show, regularly achieving audiences of over 3.5 million, according to Nielsen ratings. Leno's audience is considerably smaller than at its peak 2002–03 season, when it routinely attracting 5.8 million viewers a night. This is partly due to the continuing fragmentation of the TV audience, with an increasing number of cable shows, such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report and Conan O'Brien's new show on TBS in addition to competition with Letterman on CBS and since January 8, 2013, Jimmy Kimmel Live! on ABC.
Jimmy Fallon (beginning February 2014)
On April 3, 2013, after months of rumors and speculation, NBC officially announced that Jay Leno will retire in 2014, with Jimmy Fallon taking over The Tonight Show beginning on February 24, 2014, coinciding with the program's 60th anniversary.
On March 20, 2013, NBC confirmed that The Tonight Show will be brought back to New York City after 42 years in Southern California, including O'Brien's tenure at Universal Studios Hollywood. NBC will spend approximately $5 million renovating Studio 6B, where Fallon recorded Late Night, for The Tonight Show's return to New York City when Fallon becomes host in 2014. Studio 6B is also the same studio where Jack Paar hosted The Tonight Show throughout his tenure and also where Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show for his first ten years before the show was moved to Burbank in 1972.
On September 3, 2013, Fallon moved his current show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, to Studio 6A until construction is complete. Studio 6B's new look and infrastructure will be able to seat 240 people, up from its current capacity of 189 seats. NBC also confirmed that Lorne Michaels will become executive producer of The Tonight Show. On June 11, 2013, NBC announced that The Tonight Show will be renamed The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, with Late Night writer Amy Ozols joining the The Tonight Show in the role of producer.
Music and announcers
Music during the show's introduction and commercial segues is supplied by The Tonight Show Band. This ensemble was a jazz big band until the end of Johnny Carson's tenure. Skitch Henderson was the bandleader during the Steve Allen and early Carson years, followed briefly by Milton DeLugg (who had previously led the band on Broadway Open House and later became the musical director of The Gong Show). Gene Rayburn served as Allen's announcer and sidekick and also guest-hosted some episodes. The Lou Stein Trio originally provided musical accompaniment during the short run of Tonight! America After Dark, which ran for six months between the Steve Allen/Ernie Kovacs and Jack Paar eras of The Tonight Show, but was later replaced by the Mort Lindsey Quartet, which in turn, was replaced by the Johnny Guarnieri Quartet. José Melis led the band for Jack Paar, and, after a short while of using comic actor Franklin Pangborn, Hugh Downs was Paar's announcer. For most of Johnny Carson's run on the show, the Tonight Show's band, then called "The NBC Orchestra" was led by Doc Severinsen, former trumpet soloist in Henderson's band for Steve Allen.
When McMahon was away from the show, Severinsen was the substitute announcer and Tommy Newsom would lead the band. On the rare occasions that both McMahon and Severinsen were away, Newsom would take the announcer's chair and the band would be led by assistant musical director Shelly Cohen.
Severinsen's big band featured several accomplished sidemen in addition to saxophonist Newsom, including trumpeter Snooky Young, pianist Ross Tompkins, drummer Ed Shaughnessy, trumpeter Bobby Shew, trumpeter Conte Candoli, saxophonist Pete Christlieb, and jazz trumpet legend Clark Terry. The band frequently appeared on camera in the "Stump the Band" segments, where an audience member would dare the band to play some obscure song title, and the band would comically improvise something appropriate. The routine was played for full comedy value and the band was not really expected to know the songs, but on two occasions the band did answer correctly, much to the maestro's surprise. Severinsen was heard to ask incredulously, "You mean we actually...?"
When Carson's tenure ended in 1992, the orchestra was axed and replaced by a smaller ensemble. The first bandleader during Leno's tenure was Branford Marsalis. In 1992, The Tonight Show Band also welcomed its first female member, Vicki Randle. In 1995, Marsalis was replaced by Kevin Eubanks, though the Marsalis-written theme was used throughout the show's run. On March 29, 2004, Leno's long-time announcer Edd Hall was replaced by John Melendez from The Howard Stern Show.
Conan O'Brien announced on the February 18, 2009 episode of Late Night that The Max Weinberg 7 (rechristened as The Tonight Show Band, and adding a second percussionist), the house band on that program, would be accompanying him to The Tonight Show as his version's house band. It was announced February 23, 2009 that former Late Night sidekick Andy Richter would be O'Brien's announcer. Richter replaced O'Brien's former long-time announcer Joel Godard (who stayed behind in New York) when his rendition of The Tonight Show began.
For the second incarnation of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a new bandleader was selected, though original bandleader Kevin Eubanks returned for a few weeks in the transition. He officially announced his departure after 18 years on April 12, 2010, with his final episode airing May 28. Rickey Minor was announced as his replacement, and took over on June 7.
The Tonight Show began its broadcast at 11:15 p.m. ET, following an affiliate's 15-minute news broadcast. As more affiliates lengthened their local news programs to 30 minutes, the show began doing two openings, one for the affiliates that began at 11:15 and another for those who joined at 11:30. By early 1965, only 43 of the 190 affiliated stations carried the entire show. Johnny Carson, who was not happy that Ed McMahon was "hosting" the 11:15 segment when he refused to appear until 11:30 after February 1965, finally insisted that the show's start time be changed to 11:30, eliminating the two-opening practice in December 1966.
When the show began it was broadcast live. On January 12, 1959, the show began to be videotaped for broadcast later on the same day, although initially the Thursday night programs were kept live. Color broadcasts began on September 19, 1960.
The Tonight Show became the first American television show to broadcast with MTS stereo sound in 1984, although sporadically. Regular use of MTS began in 1985. In September 1991, the show postponed its starting time by five minutes to 11:35, to give network affiliates the opportunity to sell more advertising on their local news. On April 26, 1999, the show started broadcasting in 1080i HDTV, becoming the first American nightly talk show to be shot in that format.
Throughout the years, the time at which The Tonight Show aired and the length has changed multiple times.
First run episodes
|Begin Date||End Date||Nights||Start||End||Notes|
|September 27, 1954||October 5, 1956||Mon-Fri||11:30||1:00||Allen|
|October 8, 1956||January 4, 1957||Mon-Fri||11:30||12:30||Allen|
|January 7, 1957||December 30, 1966||Mon-Fri||11:15||1:00||Allen, Paar, Carson§|
|January 2, 1967||September 5, 1980||Mon-Fri||11:30||1:00||Carson|
|September 8, 1980||August 30, 1991||Mon-Fri||11:30||12:30||Carson|
|September 2, 1991||present||Mon-Fri||11:35||12:35||Carson, Leno, O'Brien, Leno|
§Note that many NBC affiliates chose not to carry the first fifteen minutes of the show during this period, instead preferring to air a local newscast from 11 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. As of February 1965, Carson refused to host the first 15 minutes of the program, preferring to wait until the full network was in place before delivering his opening monologue. For nearly two years, until the show's start time was adjusted to 11:30 p.m. in January 1967, the host for the opening 15 minutes of The Tonight Show was announcer Ed McMahon.
From 1965 to 1975, until the advent of Saturday Night Live, weekend repeats of The Tonight Show were staples of the NBC schedule. These repeats ran in the following time slots:
|Begin Date||End Date||Nights||Start||End||Notes|
|January 2, 1965||January 1, 1967||Sat or Sun||11:15||1:00||Repeats, known as The Saturday/Sunday Tonight Show|
|January 7, 1967||September 28, 1975||Sat or Sun||11:30||1:00||Repeats; known as The Best of Carson and The Weekend Tonight Show|
Gag, skit, and segments
- Man on the street interviews: Frequently featured actors as recurring characters, most notably Don Knotts, Louis Nye and Tom Poston, though Allen also performed impromptu bits with non-professional civilians.
- Crazy Shots: Later known as *"Wild Pictures". Allen's supporting cast and guest stars would participate in quick visual gags while Allen played piano accompaniment.
- Candid Camera: The off-again, on-again show, hosted by Allen Funt since radio's heyday, was a segment on The Tonight Show in 1958.
- Stump the Band: Audience members are asked to name an obscure song and the band tries to play it. If the band doesn't know the song, it usually breaks into a comical piece of music. This segment went on to become part of Carson's Tonight Show.
- Carnac the Magnificent: Carson plays a psychic who is given sealed envelopes (that McMahon invariably states, with a flourish, have been kept "hermetically sealed inside a mayonnaise jar underneath Funk & Wagnalls' porch since noon today"). Carnac holds an envelope to his head and recites the punchline to a joke contained within the envelope, he then rips open the envelope and reads the matching question inside. Sample: "Saucepan... Who was Peter Pan's wino brother?" If a joke falls flat with the audience, Carnac invariably passes a comedic curse upon them (e.g., "May a bloated yak change the temperature of your jacuzzi!"). Carnac appears to be modeled after one of Allen's earlier gags, "The Question Man," in which Allen is given an answer to which he then provides the punchline in the form of a question.
- The Tea Time Movie:, with "Art Fern" and the Matinée Lady (originally Paula Prentiss, then a parade of one shots including Edy Williams, Juliet Prowse and Lee Meredith, then for many years Carol Wayne, then Danuta Wesley, and finally Teresa Ganzel). Carson once said that Art Fern was his favorite character: "He's so sleazy!" Huckster Art usually wore a loud suit, lavish toupee, and pencil mustache, and spoke in the high, nasal approximation of Jackie Gleason's "Reginald van Gleason III" character. A parody of 1950s-style, fast-talking advertising pitchmen, the Tea Time Movie consists of a rapid-fire series of fake advertisements for products and companies supposedly sponsoring a mid-afternoon movie. Invariably the jokes refer to his buxom Matinée Lady assistant, and at least once in every skit a variation of the "Slauson Cutoff" joke is made (e.g., "You can find our store by heading down Hwy. 101 until you get to the Slauson Cutoff. Get out of the car, cut off your slauson, get back in the car."), as is a reference to "Drive until you get to... (a map is unfolded to reveal a table fork) the fork in the road!" Art would then return us to today's movie (like "Tarzan and Cheetah Have to Get Married" or "Rin Tin Tin Gets Fixed Fixed Fixed," etc.), followed by an antique, four-second film clip. Back to Art, caught necking with the Matinée Lady before announcing another movie and another commercial.
- Headlines (Monday): Humorous print items sent in by viewers. These real-life headlines usually contain typographical errors or unintentionally inappropriate items. The segment usually starts out with a fake, humorous Headline during the introduction for the segment, such as Arabs Wish Bush "A Happy Shoe Year!", usually reflecting some current event. Reflecting Jay's moving of this segment to a 10 p.m. ET/PT time slot, the lead Headline on the final broadcasting of this segment was 4 Out Of 5 Scientists Say "Headlines" Funnier at 10 p.m. Than 11:30 p.m.
- Jaywalking: A prerecorded segment, "Jaywalking" is a play on the host's name and the illegal practice of jaywalking. Leno asks people questions about current news and other topics in public areas around Los Angeles (usually Hollywood Boulevard, Melrose Avenue or Universal Studios). Most responses are outrageously incorrect; for example, one person believed that Abraham Lincoln was the first president, and another could not identify a picture of Hillary Clinton. Sometimes the questions are of the "What color is the White House?" level, such as asking in what country the Panama Canal is located . Up to 15 people are interviewed in an hour or less for each segment, with about nine interviews used on the air.
- Stuff We Found on E-Bay: Outrageous, real-life items available on the auction Web site E-Bay are shown, with the audience asked to guess whether or not the item was sold.
- Unusual Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas gifts: Gift items appropriate for holidays are shown; some real, some phony, but all unusual
- Twitter Tracker: In this sketch, Conan is interrupted by an overzealous announcer (voiced by show writer Brian McCann) while lamenting the increasing number of celebrities who are using Twitter. The announcer attempts to prove to Conan that celebrity tweets are exciting by reading some of his favorites, which all describe mundane activities. The sketch is always accompanied by increasingly elaborate animations in which the bird from the Twitter logo is repeatedly killed. It also includes the announcer trying to persuade Conan to play a game by using a rhyming sentence in which he refers to him as CoCo.
- Wax Fonzie/Wax Tom Cruise: While visiting a warehouse full of poor quality celebrity wax figures, Conan identified two as his favorite and purchased them. One was of Henry Winkler as his Happy Days character Arthur Fonzarelli (whose hand positioning caused Conan to comment that he had just finished up at the urinal), and the other was a creepy-looking figure of Tom Cruise. Both wax figures made several appearances on the show, most notably by both being shot out of a cannon used for a bit. Wax Tom Cruise for the most part survived, while Wax Fonzie's face became irreplaceable. Wax Fonzie ultimately met its final fate when it was obliterated in an explosion, part of a contest involving blowing up the contest winner's old car.
- Ridiculously Expensive Sketches: As an act of mock revenge for NBC forcing him out of The Tonight Show's traditional time slot, O'Brien spent the last few episodes debuting sketches that ostensibly would cost NBC an extremely large amount of money. The sketches used rare and expensive props (usually on loan) and contained media with unusually high licensing fees.
Time slots and International broadcasts
|Country||TV Network(s)||Weekly Schedule (local time)|
|Australia||The Comedy Channel||Weeknights 12.00 a.m. AEST|
|Canada||CTV 2 & Access||Simulcast with NBC's broadcast|
|Denmark||TV3 + (as The Tonight Show)||Weeknights 12.05 a.m. CET|
|Dominican Republic||Cable de Tricom (as Tonight Show)||Simulcast with NBC's ET broadcast|
|Turkey||e2 (as The Tonight Show)||Weeknights 11 p.m. IST|
|Europe||CNBC Europe||Weeknights 12 a.m. CET, Weekends 9 p.m. CET|
|India||Zee Cafe||Weeknights 12 a.m. IST|
|Israel||yes stars Comedy (as Jay Leno)||Weeknights 7:00 p.m.|
|Pakistan||CNBC Pakistan (as Tonight Show)|
|The Philippines||Jack TV (as The Tonight Show)||Tuesday to Saturday 3 p.m. (via satellite) / Tuesday to Saturday 11 p.m. (late telecast)|
|Portugal||+TVI (as The Jay Leno Show)||Weeknights 11:15 p.m.|
|Romania||Antena 3 (as Tonight Show)||Weeknights 12:25 a.m.|
|Sweden||Kanal 9 (as The Tonight Show med Jay Leno)||Weeknights around 11:50 p.m., 7:10 a.m. rerun|
|Finland||MTV3 MAX (as Tonight Show)||Weeknights 11:20 p.m., Repeated on weekday mornings|
|South Africa||CNBC Africa (as Tonight Show)|
|United Kingdom||CNBC (as The Tonight Show)||Weeknights 11 p.m.|
The Tonight Show is also seen around the world. It is broadcast on CNBC Europe, usually three nights after it has been shown in the U.S. The show is screened at 10.30 p.m. AEDST weeknights on The Comedy Channel in Australia, where new episodes are shown hours after its American broadcast. In Sweden, Kanal 5 has shown The Tonight Show (as Jay Leno Show) since the late 1990s with one week's delay. Since October, 2006, it is also being aired in India on Zee Cafe 12 hours after the show is shown in the USA.
An early attempt at airing the show in the United Kingdom during the 1980s was unsuccessful, sparking jokes by Carson. On the October 23, 1984, broadcast, guest Paul McCartney had this to say of the show's British run:
Carson: (throwing to commercial) OK, we're gonna have to cut away. We're just gonna see a commercial. We sell things occasionally. It's not like the British telly, you know. You just go forever, ten or twelve [minutes]. British television ends when they — you know, when they want to.
McCartney: (jokingly) Yeah, you're just mad because they didn't like your show.
- List of late-night American network TV programs
- The Late Shift, a made-for-cable film about Leno and Letterman's vying for host duties on The Tonight Show
- "Leno to Return as Host on March 1". The New York Times. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
- Kevin Day, Patrick (June 11, 2013). "With Jimmy Fallon, 'The Tonight Show' gets back to 'Starring'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "Show Business: Late-Night Affair". Time Magazine. August 18, 1958. Retrieved 2009-10-15.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Tonight Show.|
- The Tonight Show with Jay Leno official page
- The Tonight Show from the Museum of Broadcast Communications Web site
- The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is videotaped in Burbank, California