Ratings: Jay Leno Could Be Helping NBC — by Trashing It

"Tonight" hits a seven-week high in viewership as host Jay Leno gnaws the hand that feeds

Jay Leno should probably stop taking digs at his network's ratings — because if he keeps it up, he might not have anything to joke about.

Amid reports that NBC is planning to replace Leno as "Tonight" show host with "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon, Leno took a couple of merciless jabs at the network, and particularly its ratings, last week.

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The result? A four-week high for "Tonight."

For the week of May 18-22 — as Leno cranked up the heat on his home network (for the time being, anyway), "Tonight" reached a four-week high in the advertiser-cherished 18-49 demographic,  and a seven-week high in total viewers.

For the week, "Tonight" averaged 982,000 viewers in the demo, its best weekly performance since the week of Feb. 18-22. The total viewership averages was 3.522 million — its top performance in that category since the week of Jan. 28 – Feb. 11.

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Overall, "Tonight" bested its late-night competition — CBS's "Late Show With David Letterman" and ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" — for the week, though that has typically been the case.

Last Monday, Leno — after reportedly receiving a memo from NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt asking him to tone down the digs at the network — tossed a post-St. Patrick's Day jab at the network, calling NBC executives "snakes."

"Well you know the whole legend of St. Patrick, right?" Leno cracked. "St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, and then they came here to the United States and became NBC executives. It's a fascinating, fascinating story."

The following night, Leno landed another one over the network's ratings.

"Did you hear about this? A 28-year-old woman from Serbia has a rare brain condition where she sees everything upside down," Leno said. "The good news? She's now been given a job at the White House as President Obama's economic adviser. Isn't that crazy? It's unbelievable. She sees everything upside down. In fact, she thinks NBC is at the top of the ratings."

The attacks continued this week. On Wednesday night, he managed to mine material out of the success of "The Voice" and "Revolution" earlier in the week.

"You know what that means? Between Easter and Passover, this is truly the season of miracles. We’re number two!," he said. "And I've been saying that for the last week, that NBC is a big number two."