Just in case anyone thought Jay Leno would go on the air without mentioning the fact that his show’s budget had just been slashed, think again — Leno kicked off “The Tonight Show” Monday with a few jabs at NBC and its parent company, Comcast.
“Welcome to ‘The Tonight Show’ or as Comcast calls us, ‘The Expendables,’” Leno said by way of kicking things off, as the sounds from audience quickly went from “laughter” to “confused.”
Over the weekend, reports surfaced that about two dozen people had been laid off from “The Tonight Show” — the highest-rated late night show — which accounted for nearly 10 percent of the staff. Leno, whose salary had been between $25 million and $30 million, also took a pay cut to prevent more layoffs.
“That’s right. As you may have heard, our parent company has downsized ‘The Tonight Show,’” said Leno, not missing a beat. “And we’ve consistently been number one in the ratings. And if you know anything about our network, that kind of thing is frowned upon.”
As the Associated Press noted, though Leno’s ratings are consistently higher than his competition, the show’s profitability has slowed down, resulting in the budget cut.
“And more bad news, turns out now we’ve been taken over by Bain Capital!” Leno continued in his monologue, now on a roll. “See, I knew something was going on. Friday morning, I woke up and there was a peacock head in my bed.”
“The good news, ‘The Tonight Show,’ — it’s still free to get into the ‘The Tonight Show,’” Leno concluded. “Bad news — it’s 100 bucks to get out. Okay? So please, have your money ready, exact change if possible, though.”