Leno glad 'to be home' on Tonight Show

Olympic Gold Medalist skier Lindsey Vonn during an

Olympic Gold Medalist skier Lindsey Vonn during an interview with host Jay Leno during his first episode back on "The Tonight Show." (Credit: NBC Photo)

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"It's good to be home."

And with that, Jay Leno welcomed himself back to the job he held for 17 years before . . . well, before you-know-what.

"I've got to admit that I'm a little nervous," he added. "Not because it's my first night back [but] because I know Dave [Letterman] and Oprah [Winfrey] are watching."

We all know what that's about, too. (The three talk-show giants poked fun at themselves in a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl).

Originating from the same studio where the late and not-great "Jay Leno Show" originated in Burbank, Leno stepped back into a job that he felt was rightfully his and (if the tastes of most late-night viewers are to be believed and counted) so did his fans. He didn't tarry on the past, and that was understandable. After a couple of brief comments, he launched straight into the turbo-charged Leno joke machine, with about 21 quips tossed off in the usual 14- to 15-minute span. There were jokes about the Olympics - "Did you see Lindsey Vonn? Nobody comes down hill faster than she does . . . except NBC."

There were jokes about Dick Cheney - the "good news is that the former vice president is doing fine. The doctors say the sneer will be back on his face in no time." There were (of course!) jokes about Tiger Woods: Tiger Woods is returning to Buddhism "as opposed to what he was practicing before - that was Bootyism."

OK, groan. But guess what? This is what Leno does, and has done for years, for better or worse. But now the hard part, at least for him and NBC - making viewers forget about an abysmal six months.

Meanwhile, Letterman had a quick observation Monday night, too: "Thank you very much, welcome to the 'Late Show.' My name is Dave Letterman - same time, same host."

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