On last friday’s Tonight Show, Bravo host Andy Cohen attempted to wring some gossip out of Jay Leno by asking about the most annoying misconception people have of him. Leno immediate jumped to the “feud” between himself and David Letterman, insisting that the two really like each and that he still finds Letterman incredibly funny, even saying that the two spoke on the phone relatively recently about “things and TV and whanot,” such as the evolving late night situation at NBC.
The story of the Letterman/Leno feud has been well-documented since Bill Carter’s The Late Shift (and its HBO movie adaptation) chronicled the conflict surrounding NBC’s decision to choose Leno over Letterman as the replacement for Johnny Carson. But Leno and Letterman’s relationship began long before that, when they were both aspiring young comics in the late 70s in Los Angeles. When Letterman began hosting Late Night in 1982, Leno became one of his most frequent and beloved guests, stopping by dozens of times during the show’s decade on NBC. “You know him, you love him, you can’t live without him,” Letterman even describes him in one outro. Over time, Leno’s appearances pulled in big ratings for the late night show, and Leno’s established running gags about the news, TV Guide and the frustrations of modern life. Below, check out a list of the Leno’s best appearances on Letterman’s show, in (as best we can figure) chronological order.