Open Mic

Edd Hall Recalls Glory Days with Jay Leno

Adam Buckman Posted May 31, 2009 at 2:18 PM

Tags: The Tonight Show

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Among those who were in the audience tonight for Jay Leno’s final “Tonight Show”: Edd Hall, Leno’s announcer for the first 12 of his 17 years as host of the NBC late-night show. Besides making the show’s introductory announcements, Hall, now 50, was frequently seen on the show participating in comedy bits.

He reports he was invited to attend Friday's final show and the after-party at an undisclosed location (he disclosed it to me, but swore me to secrecy). The show also sent him a souvenir.

“They invited me to the show and to the party and they sent me a little yearbook,” he said this morning on the phone from L.A. after I contacted him via his personal Web site, eddhall.com. “Apparently they made up a yearbook of the show over the past 17 years with pictures. It’s fun.”

He said he was looking forward to running into Leno and bandleader Kevin Eubanks, but he was also hoping to see Branford Marsalis, the Leno “Tonight” show’s first bandleader who left in 1995. (As it happens, Marsalis will likely not be there — a tour schedule on his Web site, branfordmarsalis.com, indicates he’s in Europe this week.)

Hall told me he misses “The Tonight Show,” but doesn’t regret moving on in 2004 to pursue a career as a freelance voiceover artist. His voice is heard in dozens of commercials and he was also the announcer on the syndicated series “Crosswords,” Merv Griffin’s last quiz show.

So why did you leave “The Tonight Show,” Edd?

“[The job] was only a few hours a day, but it was everyday, so I couldn’t take on any other work,” Hall said.

“It was one of those things where you get into something and you do it over and over again for a long time [and] you just kind of go, You know what? It’s OK. I can try something different,” he explained, noting that he had spent nearly 25 years in late-night TV.

What many people may not know about Edd Hall (including me) was that he had started his career in late-night as an NBC page in New York in 1979, working on “Saturday Night Live.” He eventually worked for David Letterman when Letterman hosted NBC’s “Late Night.” Hall was a graphics producer and an occasional announcer on comedy bits for Letterman’s show, which was how Hall eventually came to be hired for Leno’s “Tonight Show.”

“I had a bunch of work that I had done for Letterman so we [Hall and his manager] put together a little tape and we sent it over [to NBC] and they called me in.”

It was a dream job. “I loved driving on to a lot and there was my parking space with my name on it,” Hall said. “I’ve missed coming to the show everyday. I didn’t think I would, but I miss doing that. It’s a great gig.”

As for his decision to move, he says now: “At the time, it was exactly what I needed.” 

A version of this post originally appeared on Buckman's blog, TV Howl.