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During the year in which he was establishing his standup career, Leno was performing nights throughout North America. Show, a musical variety summer replacement series.

Episode 8 — FATCAT

By the early '80s, Leno had left behind any notion of becoming an actor because his comedy career was in high gear. His subsequent film appearances have been as himself or as a parody of himself The Flintstones, Leno made his first appearance on The Tonight Show on March 2, Though he can be sharp and is an astute political commentator, there is something nice and comforting about the soft-eyed, lantern-jawed funnyman that appeals to vast middle-American audiences, the same sort who regularly tuned in to Carson.

It is small wonder that Leno became Carson's sole guest host by Leno hosted his first show as Carson's successor on May 25, , with comedian Billy Crystal as his first guest. Leno maintained, however, that the five-minute opening comedy monologue would still be "95 percent" of the show.

Carson has dominated the late-night ratings for three decades, but some NBC executives expressed concern this year about the age of the audience that is watching Mr. Carson and emphasized that Mr.

Dick Cavett on 'Tonight Show' Host Angst: Johnny Carson 'Only Happy For That Hour of His Day'

Leno has been able to attract younger viewers. Arsenio Hall Made Inroads. The age of the viewers is a concern because a late-night syndicated show starring the comedian Arsenio Hall has made significant inroads into the "Tonight" ratings, especially with younger viewers, though in the last year Mr.


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Hall's show has faded somewhat. Television advertisers most often favor younger viewers. Letterman issued a statement yesterday congratulating Mr. Leno on the appointment and declined other comment.


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Leno said that because he has filled in so regularly on "Tonight," he would be surprised if Mr. Letterman was overly bothered by his appointment.

Jay Leno's First Stand up Comedy Appearance on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show 1977

Leno said, acknowledging that his career received its biggest help in the early 's from regular guest appearances on Mr. Letterman's show.


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  8. Leno said he has been lucky in being able to build his reputation gradually through his stints as a substitute host. Leno will be only the fourth main host of the program since it began in Carson took over the show in , and the previous hosts were Steve Allen and Jack Paar.