Posted ByGerry O. on August 15, 2002 at 08:00:12:
First, please let me start off by saying that I in NO way think that Jay Leno and David Letterman are as funny and as talented as Jack Benny and Fred Allen were. NOBODY could fill Jack and Fred's shoes...However, I HAVE noticed some similarities in both sets of comedians:
1. David Letterman is not only New York City-based like Fred Allen was, but Letterman also seems to have Allen's sour-faced, "cranky old curmudgeon" image. Plus, Letterman used to (and still does on occassion) feature weird, obscure, oddball acts (such as a woman who played the rims of drinking glasses with her fingers) just like Fred used to on "Town Hall Tonight".
Letterman also has NO problem with ridiculing (and many times offending) people in power...including his own network bosses (just like Allen used to).
2. Jay Leno, while in a position of power in the entertainment industry, likes to "play it safe" and not get on the bad side of sponsors and network executives...just like Jack used to "play it safe". Leno's comedy and personality are more "mainstream", less biting than Letterman's. Plus Leno seems to go to great lengths to be a "nice guy" and be accepted in the entertainment industry, whereas Letterman just doesn't seem to give a rodent's behind about that....THAT, above all else, is where I think that Jay Leno and David Letterman are most like Jack Benny and Fred Allen.
You may agree or disagree with me, but this was just an observation that I wanted to bring up here.