Nothing's sacred when it comes to Tonight Show host Jay Leno's jokes; not even his employer. Leno's been taking pot shots at NBC network in the wake of the cutbacks they made to his show.
NBC's lack of solid entertainment of late has caused the network to dive in ratings over the last couple of years. That, in turn, drove advertisers away. Revenue loss, in turn, affected the network's budget. Because of that, NBC had to make cutbacks, some of which naturally involved Leno's show.
Rumor has it, Leno took a huge pay cut, somewhere between $5 and $10 million, to help keep the layoffs at Tonight lower than they would have been. However, some 20 people lost their jobs anyway.
While the comedian is known for making fun of just about everything and everyone, his employers may have thought they were exempt. They weren't. Leno started a recent show by asking his audience if they knew what NBC stood for. Then he informed them it was "Nothing But Cutbacks". He didn't stop there, though. He suggested his monologue got written by illegals.
Maybe the slap at NBC was deeper than a few budget cuts. Leno also recently got news that his show is losing time to allow expansion of Jimmy Kimmel Live. The latter will begin airing 30 minutes earlier beginning next year.
The Tonight Show host did, however, admit that his show wasn't the only one hurt by budget cuts. He cracked that his Today colleagues Kathie Lee and Hoda switched to drinking "lite" beer. While that wasn't his funniest joke, he still left the audience laughing and NBC reeling.
Leno's move was a ballsy, if not an intelligent one. He and his joke writers probably sensed that failing to comment on NBC's status would have disappointed viewers. They expect the comedian taking on all subjects, including NBC's cutbacks. Still, one is left to wonder if Leno will pay for his swipes at the hand that feeds him.