But getting back tot he Tonight Show, what seems to be interesting is the format of the show. Can that be duplicated in a podcast format?
An interesting question. On the other hand, I wonder if the format is worth saving. In our diverse online mediascape (which, we should remember, relatively few people still know exist, let alone care about), you can separate out all the Tonight Show functions - there are interview shows, and current events comedy shows and sketch shows and what have you. I for one would have watched the Tonight Show with Conan a lot more if it wasn't for those damn monologues and celebrity interviews - but those are reasons I'll never cozy up to late night as a format.
At both Late Night and the Tonight Show, Conan subjected the format to as much ridicule as anything else - think here about the "we spent tons of money on this" bits over the last few Tonight Shows, or my favorite episode of Late Night from 1994 where the audience was entirely 8 year old children. We're used to that kind of material in alt stand up, but the country still isn't, and many people (oldsters especially) find it kind of off putting. Craig Ferguson subjects the format to some scrutiny too, but he also replaces its hokey elements (sometimes) with super-serious interviews with the likes of Desmond Tutu or Cornell West.
The short version - obviously, there are people who are good at interviewing and good at comedy (Jesse, say, or the aforementioned Craig Ferguson) - but now you can split those functions into two or more projects, let both be as long or as short as they want to be, and convince people to listen to / watch both.