James Douglas Muir Leno is a popular American comedian, television host and writer. After performing stand-up comedy for a number of years before becoming the host of The Tonight Show on NBC from 1992 to 2009. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 1992 to 2009.

Jay Leno on Will Smith

Jay Leno on Will Smith: ‘It wasn’t the slap that bothered me’
Jay Leno

After 20 years of hosting the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on WPTV News Channel 5, Leno is a philanthropist, best-selling author, and automotive collector and is performing a family-friendly stand-up show at the Kravis Center on Sunday, April 17 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $39 plus taxes and fee.

Excerpts of WPTV’s Jay Leno interview

T.A. Walker – Jay, how are you?

Jay Leno – Good? Yeah, I’ll tell a few jokes [and] try to make a living. That’s the gig.

TA – You were in Boca on Tuesday. Then you flew [to California] and now you’re gonna come back this [Florida] this weekend. What were you doing in Boca?

Jay – I was in Redondo Beach, California Monday night. Tuesday at noon, I had a corporate date in Boca. And then Tuesday night, I had the Performing Arts Center at Thousand Oaks, California. So yeah, good routing, isn’t it? That’s what you call a good agent. (laughs) Yeah. Instead of putting the two California dates and then go to Florida, you put it in between. So you’re flying every six hours basically. (laughing)

Leno on Politics

TA – What’s your show about Jay?

Jay – It’s just traditional stand-up comedy. You know, I used to do a lot of politics. I just stopped because it’s so divisive. I mean, I find audiences when you mentioned a candidate’s name, they pause and they have to decide which side you are on the joke before they laugh at the joke…

Jay – Rodney Dangerfield was a mentor and a good friend of mine. And I knew Rodney, God, 50 years, and I had no idea who he voted for… …It just didn’t come up. And you know when you take politics out of the mix… It’s like going to [the movies]. Sometimes you just want to go to the movies and see a movie and I don’t want to learn about I don’t want to be educated. I just want to get away from it and enjoy it. And that’s kind of the idea.

TA – It’s interesting that you say that because we’re an NBC affiliate. So people make assumptions about everybody that works at [WPTV], but we’re also a Fox affiliate so we confuse people because we’re owned by neither company, but [people] always have something that they’re going to say and you can’t win.

Jay – That’s what I’m saying! People will make up their mind [by asking] ‘Who do you go for? Oh, I’m not watching you know.

Leno on Will Smith

TA – Anything I haven’t asked you that you want to add?

Jay – …I never feel ‘Here’s what people need to know.’ You know, it was my favorite thing about the Academy Awards, ‘[Everybody] knew [Jada Pinkett Smith] had alopecia.’ I didn’t know, I’m sorry. I got my own problems. I didn’t know I had alopecia. I didn’t know you (gesturing to T.A.) had alopecia right there (laughter). [The] idea that celebrities think everybody knows. I think it was [William] Shatner, ‘And I think a lot of you might not know that I have hemorrhoids.’ No, I don’t. You know, I watch Star Trek. It never even occurred to me. You know, I mean, why why would you know that? Why would I want to know that?

T.A. – You know how many times they make fun of me for being bald? If I got upset, I’d be slapping everybody!

Jay – Well, that’s what I mean. That’s what I mean. Because what you know, I think there’s more to it than that obviously, you know, can we all come to the agreement, open marriages don’t work. Okay. I’m sorry. You know, if you just want to screw around, just screw around, but let’s not pretend that open marriages… and I’ve never, I’ve never seen one of those work out. Maybe there’s people… that I again, I’m not I’m not forcing myself on anybody.

Jay – But you know, something Will is a good guy. I’ve known him a long time and it wasn’t the slap that bothered me because that’s reaction; that’s [he] was in the chair yelling obscenities where you go, ‘Whoa.’ And then to do it again. Well, I mean, you had a minute to clear your head there. You should have taken it and it didn’t clear. It didn’t clear again and went ‘Oh, you know, there’s some emotional thing going on here.’ And I hope I hope he gets it straightened out. I mean, [I don’t] make fun of him. I’m not making fun of him. I know him. He’s always been a decent guy, model citizen, good role model. There’s some emotional thing there [I] hope he gets it straightened out.”

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