Former Late Night King Jay Leno Talks About Why Comedy Is Now Too Political

By Colin Fredericson

Jay Leno lamented the state of late night television. He talked about the highly politicized approach to comedy that today’s late-night hosts take, and what effect that is having on the genre.

Jay had this response when Today host Al Roker asked him if he misses being on late night TV:

“No, it’s different. I don’t miss it. You know, everything now is, if people don’t like your politics, they—everyone has to know your politics.”

He said back when he was hosting late night TV, he used his predecessor’s model of obscuring his politics. Leno took over as host of The Tonight Show from Johnny Carson.

“I kind of used Johnny’s model. People couldn’t figure out… ‘Well, you and your Republican friends’ or ‘Well, Mr. Leno, you and your Democratic buddies.’ And I would get hate mail from both sides equally. Well, that’s fabulous. That’s exactly what I want,” Leno explained. “But when people see you as one-sided it just makes it tough.”

Leno was most likely referring to late night show comedians and their constant bashing of President Trump.

“Now it’s all very serious. I’d just like to see a bit of civility come back to it, you know?” Leno added.

President Trump tweeted about the interview, as referenced by Fox & Friends, agreeing with Leno’s general sentiment.

“’Jay Leno points out that comedy (on the very boring late night shows) is totally one-sided. It’s tough when there’s only one topic.’ @foxandfriends Actually, the one-sided hatred on these shows is incredible and for me, unwatchable. But remember, WE are number one – President!”

Leno explained the philosophy his team used in putting together his late night shows, compared to what he sees currently happening.

“The theory when we did the show was: You just watch the news, we’ll make fun of the news, and get your mind off the news. Well now people just want to be on the news all the time. You just have one subject, so it’s the same topic every night. Which makes it very hard.”

He named other late hosts to point out the scarcity of topics they deal with in their broadcasts.

“All the comics, Jimmy, Colbert, and everybody else, it’s tough when that’s the only topic out there.”

Commenters on Twitter attacked Leno for the comment, some calling him not funny and throwing insults, others seeing the truth in his statements.

“Jay Leno is right to say that Late Night shows are entirely partisan now. Last night I saw them turn the #collegeadmissionsscandal into a hit on Trump despite the fact Trump appointed the US Attorney prosecuting the admissions fraud. Divorced from reality,” tweeted Robby Starbuck.

Leno also appeared on The View, where he clarified his Today’s show comments when pressed by Joy Behar. He talked about how the jokes on current late-night TV are one-sided politically.

“I love them all, Samantha, and Jimmy, and the other Jimmy, and Colbert,” Leno told The View hosts, before adding. “But you’re all kind of doing a different version of the same joke.”

Jay Leno last hosted Jay Leno’s Garage, a show about rare, classic, and unique cars. He is known for his successful, long-running late night talk show host career.