The Tonight Show is in a spot of trouble with more than 20 employees laid off and Jay Leno taking a substantive pay cut, but the situation isn’t above joke material for the show.
On Monday’s show, Jay Leno joked about the situation in his monologue, the New York Daily News noted.
“Welcome to The Tonight Show or, as Comcast calls us, ‘The Expendables’,” Leno said to open Monday’s show.
The budget for Leno’s Tonight Show was increased when NBC took Leno into a new 10 pm time slot and Conan O’Brien took over the show’s normal slot. But, when Leno returned to 11:35 pm and Conan O’Brien was bumped off the network, the budget reportedly stayed the same.
Now the show’s budget was moved back to its original level, creating the need for layoffs. Between 20 and 25 positions were cut from the show, and Leno had his salary reduced to $20 million from $25 million in an effort to save more jobs, The Associated Press reported.
“Jay’s foremost concern is for the wonderful people who work with him at The Tonight Show,” said Bruce Bobbins, a spokesman for Leno. “He did what was necessary to ensure their well-being.”
On Monday’s show Leno called the move “downsizing” and made more jokes about NBC’s poor ratings outside of his show.
“We are consistently No. 1,” Leno said about his show, “and that’s frowned on around here.”Leno went on to joke that he woke up that morning to find a peacock in his bed.
The Tonight Show‘s cost-cutting is part of a move NBC Universal is making to improve financial performance under the new ownership of Comcast Corp., The Associated Press noted.
Even though it is consistently No. 1 in its time slot, The Tonight Show has struggled to make money for NBC, The Associated Press reported.