James Douglas Muir "Jay" Leno (born April 28, 1950, in New Rochelle, New York) is an American comedian, actor, and television host.
After doing standup comedy for years, he became the host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 1992 to 2014, except for a time between June 2009 and February 2010 when it was supposed that he would be succeeded by Conan O'Brien while beginning in September 2009 a primetime talk show, titled The Jay Leno Show, which aired weeknights at 10:00 p.m., also on NBC; however, a controversy led to Leno returning to host The Tonight Show. He hosted his last episode of The Tonight Show on February 6, 2014.
Tropes associated with his work:
- Cool Car: Leno loves cars. He is well-known for his impressive vehicle collection at his Jay Leno's Big Dog Garage, to the point that he hosts a TV series for CNBC titled Jay Leno's Garage.
- Cool Bike: He also has more than a few motorcycles, too.
- Creator Backlash:
- Is not fond of the 1989 buddy-cop movie Collision Course, in which he was paired with Pat Morita.
- He would prefer we all forget about the May 20, 1993 episode of The Tonight Show, which was a special live episode from the Cheers pub with the show's cast to commemorate the series' finale that aired earlier that night. Having been there the whole day celebrating, the cast was completely wasted and unable to properly participate in the show at any capacity, and Leno can be seen growing visibly frustrated with them as the hour drags on. Leno called the show a "mistake" afterwards and Cheers star Ted Danson subsequently appeared as a guest a week later to apologize for the special being such a mess. It was quickly buried in the archives and never acknowledged by either party again, aside from Leno citing it as the worst episode he ever did and the reason why he never did another live show.
- Similarly, Leno prefers to bury The Jay Leno Show and the conflict it caused with Conan O'Brien in the dustbin of history, aside from appearing on the cover of Entertainment Weekly in 2010 to acknowledge them naming it the biggest bomb in TV history.
- Denial of Digital Distribution: He believes that comedy is best experienced live and in the moment and refuses to record stand-up specials because he feels that home audiences will not be able to get the proper gist of his jokes because they weren't in the room at the time the jokes were made.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: He occasionally pokes fun at his prominent jawnote , even daring Hulk Hogan and other members of NWO to take a jab at it when he and Kevin Eubanks appeared with Diamond Dallas Page.
- Money, Dear Boy: He is well-known for being financially cautious, always working two jobs and only spending the smaller of the two incomes unless he absolutely had to dip into the other. Even when he was making tens of millions of dollars a year as the host of The Tonight Show, he'd do at least 150 stand-up shows a year and only use the income from those live appearances.
- Motor Mouth: When performing stand-up, he talks very fast while rambling at length. During he heyday as a stand-up comic, it wasn't unusual for him to keep talking for hours without tiring and have venue operators to leave him the keys so they could go home for the night.
- Real Men Eat Meat: He's spoken on air about how he didn't eat vegetables for decades. None other than Michelle Obama came on the Tonight Show to get Jay to eat healthier. He's since made changes to his lifestyle.
- Wham Line: One of the most memorable moments of his career came in 1995, when he had Hugh Grant on his show as a guest right after Grant had gotten busted getting busy with a prostitute in his car. Leno opened the interview by looking Grant straight in the eye and asking him, "What the hell were you thinking?" The moment quickly became meme-worthy (as much as you possibly could in 1995) and is in hindsight seen as the turning point where Leno found his footing and regained the #1 slot from David Letterman.
- What Could Have Been:
- Top Gear (back when it was supposed to be a co-production between NBC and BBC America) but turned it down, because the commercialized nature of American TV meant that the show wouldn't be able to freely criticize the cars being reviewed. He was offered the job of hosting an American version of
- According to Jimmy Kimmel, ABC came close to poaching Leno to host a Tonight Show competitor in late 2008 as Conan O'Brien was getting ready to take over. The Jay Leno Show was the result of NBC's last ditch effort to retain him.
- Workaholic: Unlike his predecessors, Leno didn't utilize guest hosts except on one occasion and also regularly performed stand-up as well.