Jay Leno vs. David Letterman

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Difference between Jay Leno and David Letterman

Only a few people come to mind when you mention “late night entertainment programs”, but these people have been in the industry for such a great period of time that their presence is truly something to be acknowledged, recognized and praised. To be a host for late night programs, one has to be exceptionally witty, with a quick and funny response to a serious matter, a professional approach that tells people how much one loves the job and work hard to make bosses and the public happy.  

Everyone loves comedy, and people like Jay Leno and David Letterman do an awesome job making it their business.

Behind The Funny Men

Jay Leno was born in 1950 in New York to a Scottish housewife and an insurance salesman with Italian roots. The family later on moved to Massachusetts, where young Leno grew up and was schooled. Although he had been told to drop out of high school, somehow Leno made it through to college and graduated with a degree in speech therapy from Emerson College where in 1973, going on to create his own comedy club.

David Letterman was born in 1947 in Indiana. His parents were a florist and a secretary for the Presbyterian church. Later on during his young adult years, Letterman gave up his dreams of going to Indiana University to enroll in Bell State University and take up a course in Broadcasting. He admitted to being an average student, but obviously it did not stop him from becoming one of the most popular talk show hosts of today.


Jay Leno is well known for being the host of The Tonight Show from 1992 to 2009, and from 2010 onwards. He became NBC’s longest-running entertainment program’s host in 1992 after the comedian Johnny Carson decided to retire. Jay Leno also hosted the self-titled but short lived The Jay Leno Show from 2009 to 2010.

David Letterman got into broadcasting when he was still a student newscasting for WBST, his college’s radio station. In 1980, he was the host of The David Letterman Show, an Emmy Award-winning morning comedy program, but it closed down in the same year. He then transferred from NBC to CBS and made his mark with the Late Show With David Letterman which was a consistent competitor of Leno’s The Tonight Show.

Memorable Moments

In January 24 2005, Jay Leno dedicated an entire episode to Johnny Carson, who had just passed away the day before. In March 2009, Leno featured President of the United States Barack Obama, making this moment the first time a current President appeared on a late night show.

One of the Late Show With David Letterman’s most hilarious episodes was in the year 1987 when a woman with rhesus monkeys came on stage. Then in 1995, for David Letterman’s birthday, actress Drew Barrymore danced on top of his table and flashed him, making it one of the most memorable episodes of the program.


  • Jay Leno finished college with a degree in speech therapy, and David Letterman in broadcasting.
  • Both Jay Leno and David Letterman happen to be two of the most well known TV personalities, being hosts of two of the most popular late night shows in the US.
  • The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Late Show With David Letterman were competitors.

Which late night host is best?
  • Jay Leno
  • David Letterman

Discuss It: comments 3

  • Guest
  • Judie wrote on April 2010

Good for Jay Leno…….Letterman is just a smart guy who needs to be put in his place.

Its amazing Letterman had the nerve to make comments about other people having martial problems. (example: his comments on Tiger Woods)

His ratings will decline soon….very soon.

  • Guest
  • janet wood wrote on August 2010

how do I ;earn their ratings? I watch them both-usually switching back and forth depending on guest stars. But oveerall I do prefer Letterman

  • Guest
  • shaadi.com wrote on December 2010

nice comparison

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