When we think of the Late Night Wars that erupted when Johnny Carson retired in the early ’90s, we tend to recall the conflict as fought between two fierce adversaries: David Letterman and Jay Leno. There was, however, another dog in the fight as well: Arsenio Hall, who came out guns blazing in 1989 and, once Leno had officially taken over Tonight, memorably promised to “kick Jay’s ass” in the pages of Entertainment Weekly.
Of course, by now, all that bad blood is ancient history. Leno and Hall would eventually make up, enjoying a mutual friendship and respect — and clearly, Hall feels the same way about his other onetime rival. Or does he?!
After announcing the news of Letterman’s impending retirement on his syndicated series, Hall noted that late-night talk-show hosts seem to be an endangered species: “Man, they are dropping like flies! First Jay, now Dave…” Which led, of course, to the perfect punchline — “My plan is working perfectly!“ Dig that Evil Overlord Laugh, Arsenio.