The threat of violence apparently lurks just beneath the surface of this looming “Tonight Show” transition that’s being portrayed publicly as completely amicable.
It’s not actual violence, of course (or at least, we hope), but it was nevertheless noteworthy that twice during Friday night’s “Tonight Show,” visual comedy bits suggested that Jay Leno would like to murder Jimmy Fallon.
In the first one, which served as a “cold open” to the show, Leno was seen sneaking up on Fallon, who was napping on a couch in a “Tonight Show” green room, with the apparent intent of smothering Fallon with a pillow.
The “joke” was that Fallon suddenly awoke and caught him (watch this bit below).
And in the second example, Leno was seen in the “Breaking Bad” spoof that was shown recently on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” playing the role of a handicapped, speech-impaired gangster who demanded that Fallon be killed.
The “Breaking Bad” spoof was called “Joking Bad,” and it had Fallon selling jokes instead of methamphetamine on the black market. A portion of the bit was shown on “Leno” Friday night, as an example of how Leno has been amenable to appearing in comedy bits produced in New York by Fallon’s “Late Night” writers and producers.
The opportunity to show the clip came during a portion of Leno’s interview with Fallon in which the two seemed to take pains to portray Fallon’s “Tonight Show” takeover as the friendliest thing in the world.
“I just have to say I’m so excited and looking forward to taking over ‘The Tonight Show,’ and thanks for being so cool with it,” said Fallon, who turned 39 on Thursday.
“I am glad,” said Leno, 63. “You are just the man for the job. We are good friends,” Leno added. “The press always tries to make it look like, ‘Ooh [unintelligible],’ but it’s really not …”
“You’ve been so helpful,” gushed Fallon, “and I hope I make you proud.”
“You will do a great job because, you know, we talk on the phone all the time and …,” Leno said.
“You’ve helped us out. We’ve done bits together,” Fallon interjected.
To which Leno replied, “It was a lot of fun, those bits. I really enjoyed them.”
Leno has only a few months left as host of “Tonight” before Fallon takes over in February.
Fallon was in L.A. in advance of Sunday’s Emmy Awards, where he will likely be a presenter and also a possible winner (his show is nominated in the “Outstanding Variety Series” category).
On the “Leno” show, Fallon told a very entertaining story about a ping-pong game he once played against Prince.