writer's guild of america


Scenes from a television war

The Conan-Leno fight is clearly a generational one. I have yet to hear anyone in my online social network declare for “Team Leno”; I’m not sure that there is any such thing, or who would be part of it if there were. Consider this: Jay Leno was at one time one of the most respected standup comedians on Earth, and continues to perform live all over the continent and refine his live act. Conan O’Brien, a Harvard man who spent no more than ten seconds paying comic dues of any kind, has no traceable experience of standup. And yet every single standup comic I’ve heard or seen weigh in on the feud has backed Conan—even though he appears to be walking away from the Tonight Show, which has been the dominant economic force in their industry for more than 50 years. There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear.