“Well, once again, I did not get The Tonight Show.” With that rueful opening joke, David Letterman finally weighed in on the late-night shenanigans. “NBC is bringing back Johnny Carson — they’re putting him on at 10 p.m.”

Letterman was relentless, gleefully relishing these moments. Presenting an alternate-universe version of what went down over at NBC, Dave said, “[NBC] gave The Tonight Show to Jay ‘Big Jaw’ Leno… [but] he said, ‘Y’know, I’m having trouble staying up this late. Is there any chance you could put me on at 10 p.m.?” Letterman then offered some “free genius advice” to NBC:

Makes as much sense as anything else, right?

Dave was wonderfully unstoppable. He gave us a Top Ten list of “Signs There’s Trouble at NBC” that included, “Just gave 10 p.m. show to Snookie.” Letterman offered a terrific sight-gag, saying that things were so confused over at NBC, they were now airing “Nighttime with Chuck and Don”: Cut to a shot of Charles Grodin sitting at a desk, with Don King next to him cradling a guitar, Kevin Eubanks-style.

Letterman concluded with a question: “Do I still have a show?”

Meanwhile, Jay Leno kept up his curious tone of chipper bitterness last night: “Our show has been canceled. We’re fired again. [Except] the last time, we performed better than expected — that was totally different!”

Leno continued: “My people are upset. Conan’s people are upset. NBC said they wanted drama at 10. Well, now they got it!”

This, I’m afraid, doesn’t even make sense: NBC didn’t want drama at 10 — they wanted a cheap-to-produce talk show. Also, what’s with this “people”? Is this a weird, distancing reference to the hosts’ legal teams? Are you upset, Jay? Do you know whether Conan is? If so, say so, please.

Speaking of Conan, over on The Tonight Show, O’Brien walked out and said, “I’m Conan O’Brien, the new host of Last Call with Carson Daly.” Noting the earthquake that occurred in California, O’Brien said it “knocked Jay Leno’s show from 10 p.m. to 11:35.” Then he did his high-pitched-voice Leno impersonation, and offered another hilarious list of his options, which included, “Leave television altogether and work in a classier business with better people, like hardcore porn.”

Take note, Jay: That’s how you express your feelings and get laughs.

Craig Ferguson had, as always, some bluntly funny assessments to make during The Late Late Show. “You know the world is on its ass when David Letterman and I are considered the ‘stable’ ones.” “Conan apparently hasn’t decided what to do,” noted Ferguson. “Well, they are looking for a judge at American Idol…” (Smart minds think alike: Ellen DeGeneres’ same-day variation on this was, “I wish [Simon] all the luck in the world hosting The Tonight Show.”) Bonus jokes about Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck included below; Craig’s “TV Goes Nuts” segment starts about 4 minutes in:

Ferguson said with mock-huffiness, “This whole mess is a direct result of atrocious management by a once great American network. The networks just do not treat late-night shows with respect. For example, this morning my caviar was supposed to get here at 10:00 a.m. And it did not get here until 10:05, which completely ruined my massage.”

Craig concluded, placing everything in perspective (for now, at least): “What I am saying, I think, is, it is a bunch of middle age white guys arguing over who gets X-million dollars; who gives a f—?”

(Follow me on Twitter @kentucker.)

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