Unlike Johnny Carson, The King of American Late Night. Who has his own era, undisputed between 1962 and 1992. His successors don't own theirs alone. It is shared by Jay Leno and David Letterman.
It all started when Jay Leno was chosen to took over the reigns of the Tonight Show after Johnny Carson announces his retirement sometime in May 1991. David Letterman was felt bypassed on the job he wants from the beginning. Jay Leno got the Tonight Show, and because of that Letterman left for CBS to host The Late Show with David Letterman in 1993. 1993 is the year that started the Leno Letterman Era.
The Letterman show defeated the Jay Leno Show in the ratings until 1995, until that Hugh Grant interview on his incident with a prostitute then. After that Jay Leno defeated Letterman, until the year 2009.
Conan O'Brien was promised by NBC to host The Tonight Show, in 2004, June 2009 he got the show, but failed to defeat Letterman in the ratings in the following months. NBC executive Jeff Zucker to rescue the situation, and as NBC affiliates clamored, decided to push the Tonight Show to 12:05 am to put back Jay Leno back to 11:35pm, who was at the time was hosting his 10:00pm primetime show, The Jay Leno Show, which also failed to have a good ratings. But Conan O'Brien don't want to follow Jay Leno, which begin the Late Night Wars between Conan and NBC, Letterman and Kimmel against Leno. The Leno and Letterman rivalry revitalized. Jay Leno also joke at Letterman when an extortion attempt against Letterman, to expose his sexual relationships with his interns. Letterman have the extortionist jailed, and expose his secrets himself on television.
Although they are many late night comedians now like Colbert, Ferguson, Kimmel, O'Brien, Fallon, Stewart. Jay Leno and David Letterman is still the two leading figures when it comes to late night. When it comes to the title King of Late Night, there are two sides of the coin. Ratings speaking, Jay Leno is the King, but when it comes to format, concepts, and all other things, David Letterman is the King. All other Late Night Shows and Host has patterned their shows, skits, even the way of delivering a joke is patterned over Letterman's show. Even Leno patterned his show on some of David Letterman idea's and concepts. When Johnny Carson was the standard of late night. Jay Leno patterned his show on Johnny Carson's style. When it came that Letterman became the standard of late night, patterned his show on Letterman style.
The question of who is a better late night host, unquestionably is David Letterman, Jay Leno maybe the better comedian, but the jokes are very poor and unadventurous and very safe. Unlike of David Letterman, very satire and also intelligent jokes. His interview skills are way beyond that of Jay Leno.
But the era is about to end, Jay Leno retired on February 6, 2014. Letterman announce his retirement on April 3, 2014, which is to commence on 2015. but why this rivalry have to happen Why Jay Leno have to bypass David Letterman, when he know he wants and deserves the job. Simple, Leno, is the mentor of Letterman in comedy. Maybe he can't accept that Letterman was first to go on television, and was that close to taking the Tonight Show, which in the time was a comedians dream to host. And when he got the opportunity he grab it. That's all.