Last night, Jimmy Kimmel hosted his entire ABC show doing an impression of Jay Leno, saying "I'm taking over all the shows in late night." He had a gray wig on, and a prosthetic chin, and he talked in Leno's squeaky, lispy voice. He mocked Leno's banter with his bandleader, and Leno's audience handshake-handtouch thing, and Leno's bad jokes.
It was sick, and it was great. Of the many NBC-Leno-Conan jokes that have been flying around late night in the past week, Kimmel's was the most ... interesting and original. It was schlub genius. The hour was by turns flat, hysterical, dumb, and uncomfortable, and the longer the gag stretched on, and the longer Kimmel stayed committed to being the Faux Jay, the more it felt a little like a piece of network performance art. It wasn't Ali G, but it was warped and oddly meta. Watching guest Elisha Cuthbert treat Faux Jay like a real late-night host served as a weird commentary on the faux-ness of all late-night celebrity interviews.
Chevy Chase also appeared, coming out in a Conan O'Brien wig to play along. He wasn't as funny as he wanted to be, and soon he was himself again, answering questions including a few about his own failed late-night talk show. About the NBC mess, he said to Faux Jay: "I think Conan got a bad, bad, bad, deal. ... Conan's going to stay there, I think they're going to drop -- uh, I think you're finished." I'm not a big Chevy fan, but I hope he's right.
A pair of clips:
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