With Jay and Dave and Arsenio and Chevy and Conan all on now, it seems that I . . . I don't sleep well anymore.
The other night I had a dream.
Arsenio was wearing a loud turquoise and silver jacket and black toreador pants. He looked into the camera and shouted: "Yasser Arafat in the house, ladies and gentlemen! Give it up for the main man of the PLO!"
Of course, the audience gave it up. There was thunderous
applause and all that WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! business. Arafat walked out on stage smiling broadly. He was wearing his trademark Arab *kaffiyeh* and tan military uniform.
Suddenly, he snapped open his side holster, pulled out his revolver and pumped six shots into the ceiling.
The crowd went nuts again, whooping and chanting: " YAS-SER! YAS-SER! Arsenio waited for the noise to die down. Then he looked bug-eyed at the camera and said: "My man is strapped!"
After that Arafat and Arsenio exchanged high fives and Arsenio's band (the Posse, yes, I'm hip) whipped into an old Pat Travers' tune: "Boom, Boom, Out Go the Lights!"
God, it was great TV! Paula Abdul was up next (Arafat said he was a big fan) and then comedian Rich Hall. The show did a 5.2 in the overnight ratings.
Over on Letterman, Dave was welcoming Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Rabin was clearly tired from the events surrounding the recent Middle East peace agreement, but agreed to sit in with Paul Shaffer and the band for a spirited rendition of "Mustang Sally."
Rabin played alto sax. Later, Paul would say admiringly: "That cat can wail!"
Then Dave and Rabin made some small talk about Israeli women (too pushy, Rabin said) and the intifada.
"In Gaza," explained Rabin, "we're seeing a lessening of . . ."
"Yitzhak, come back and see us some time," said Dave, signaling a commercial break. "Coming up next, Ugly Kid Joe! Stay with us!"
I don't know, maybe it wasn't a dream.
You stay up late like I do and the line blurs between sleep and wakefulness. It's the eerie twilight of late-night TV.
Jay and Dave. Arsenio. Chevy and Conan . . . I like Jay. But you know what they say. They say he's dropping in the ratings like a safe plummeting 25 stories.
What happened, Jay? Where did it all go wrong? Is it the monologue? The tired political humor? The Shriners convention-type jokes?
Chevy. I think of Chevy a lot. Too much, really. It's not healthy. He's so nervous. I keep waiting for the paramedics to wrestle him to the stage and make him blow into a paper bag.
What was it Chevy said to Jason Priestley the other night?
Oh, yes. I remember now. Priestley was talking about a movie he'd just made. And suddenly Chevy cut him off to say: "I hear you're a big hockey fan."
Well. I thought I'd die. So did Priestley. He just stared at Chevy for a couple of seconds.
And I thought: Way to go, Chevy. When it comes to interviewing, you're a regular Eric Sevareid, you know that?
Am I being too hard on Chevy? Yes. Here, take this stick. Now whack me across the face as hard as you can. No, go ahead. I deserve it.
Conan whacked one of his guests the other night, didn't he? Ray Charles, I think it was. Conan said: "Ray, will you knock it off with that damn 'Uh-huh' stuff?" and clipped him across the chin.
Unless that was a dream, too.
Conan. I don't know what to say about Conan. Opening night, he has George Wendt and John Goodman leg wrestling on the show!
Leg wrestling! I mean, come on! That's entertainment? Somewhere in Malibu, Jack Paar must have spit up his food.
You know what I wonder? I wonder what Ted Koppel thinks of all this "late-nights wars" stuff. He just sits there with that hang-dog look and that mound of lacquered red hair and that holier-than-thou attitude.
Above the fray. Talking about NAFTA and the Palestinian refugees and the situation in the Balkans. Who does he think he is, anyway?
Boy, I hate that! He really gets on my nerves. He's not a real late-night guy. Not with that attitude.
Jay and Dave are late-night guys. And Arsenio and Chevy.
I . . . I just wish I could sleep.
The headaches are more frequent now. So is the nausea.
But you know what? It's a good kind of nausea.