Monday, May 12, 2014


For years I've gone to bed with the same man, Mondays through Fridays, usually right before midnight so it was a thrill to actually see him in person for the first time.  Comedian Jay Leno was this year's Mary and Louis Fusco Distinquished Lecturer at Southern Connecticut State University on Friday, May 9 to a packed house of admirers. Past recipients over the last sixteen years have been Colin Powell, Walter Cronkite, Tim Russert, Michael J. Fox, Astronaut Mark Kelly and Alan Alda, among others.

Don't look for pearls of wisdom, life lessons or a philosophy to live by. Leno, who was king of the late night television circuit, on The Tonight Show, on NBC, is known for his timing, story telling and wry sense of humor.  He didn't disappoint.

Now that Jimmy Fallon has taken over the late night spot, Jay Leno has taken his stand-up comedy routine on the road.  He admitted easily that on television he did different material in the same place every night. Now, on the road, he does the same material in a different place five nights a week.

With an easy, affable personality, Leno riffed on a variety of topics from IKEA stores in Thailand to teenage girls' underwear at Walmart.  He claims it's harder to tell who's crazy now, due to our technology since people talking to themselves may really be speaking on their blue tooth phones.

He admitted his best interviews have been with politicians, from President Ronald Reagan to President Barack Obama. The topics that drew his attention ranged from Hugh Hefner and his new wife, Mr. Potato Head the toy and Jerry Lewis supposedly naming our medications, where the side effects are worse than the disease.

From airport security and terrorists to cats vs. dogs as pets to women who freeze their eggs, he hopscotched to Carnival Cruises, Charlie Sheen and the unique joys of living in Los Angeles.  The perpetual car lover, he made fun of the Smartcar and spending $108 to fill his SUV.  With a garage that has at least 100 cars and vintage and modern motorcycles, he also has a car show on the internet, "Jay Leno's Garage."

He's written several books, for children and adults, even inspiring a superhero "The Crimson Chin," as well as voicing characters in movies and shows, from a carpenter, detective and journalist to a fire hydrant, jack-o-lantern, rabbit and king.  Right now he's writing his material for a May 22 awards ceremony in Israel, to present the Genesis Prize to its first recipient former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  He and his wife Mavis will stop in London and Rome during this trip.

Wherever he goes, like a recent trip to China, or being inducted into the Televison Hall of Fame, Jay Leno is a consummate performer who knows how to tickle those funny bones and give his listeners the joyous gift of laughter.

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