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Marlon Wayans Believes Leno Is Actually an Edgy ‘Jay Pryor’

The media is admittedly largely a Team Coco institution and has missed few opportunities as of late to criticize Jay Leno. His performance at Saturday Night's White House Correspondents' Dinner was no exception: It quickly became conventional wisdom that he bombed. Well, as the star and co-writer of Little Man, a comedy in which a tiny criminal on the lam hides out by pretending to be a baby, Marlon Wayans clearly didn't get where he is today by following conventional wisdom: He is a Leno fan. In fact, when we caught up with him in D.C. before he attended the dinner, he told Vulture that he actually thinks Leno's only gotten better since the Conan imbroglio. “He used to be all soft and stuff, but after that whole Conan thing, he got some anger on him,” Wayans told Vulture before the dinner. “He’s like Jay Pryor.” And this is no idle comparison; last year, Wayans was signed to play Pryor in a biopic. (We did not find him after Leno's performance, so we could get no opinion as to whether Jay had been Live on the Sunset Strip Pryor, or See No Evil, Hear No Evil Pryor.)

The Zen-like Wayans said that the NBC imbroglio was just show business as usual: "The thing is to keep doing what you're doing. I think Conan will be happy on TBS, and I think Jay's gonna be happy back at NBC, and everything's gonna work out and they'll forget all this happened and it's going to be great for both of them." And if not? "We let them slap-box and see who wins and gets the time slot. It’ll be like Mayweather versus Mosley.” And who would win? "My vote's on Conan, because Jay's got that chin."

Photo: Patrick McMullan