Jay Leno talks David Letterman, Howard Stern, and when he'll retire [AUDIO]

Categories: Comedy
Lee Stranahan
Jay Leno doesn't hold back.
Tonight Show host Jay Leno gave an exclusive interview to City Pages in advance of his March 12 stand-up comedy dates at Mystic Lake Casino.

In the wide-ranging Q & A, Leno pooh-poohs David Letterman's recent revelation that he plans to retire in two years, and fires back at Howard Stern for accusations of stealing comedic material.

City Pages: How's it going?

Jay Leno: Eh, you know, tell a few jokes, try to make a living.

That's what you do, I guess.

That's it.


You've got a show coming up at Mystic Lake at March 12?

Yeah, a couple shows, it's a nice room, I like playing there. I've played there many times.

Is this part of a larger tour?

I've been on the road since I was 19. I do about 160 dates a year. I'm on the road two to three days a week. I was in Vegas this weekend, and I've got a couple things this weekend in Florida, then Oklahoma and then you guys.

You're definitely known for your work ethic.

Well, you know what it is, it's like saying, "I don't want to train every day, I just want to run marathons." And you can't just run marathons, you have to run every day. And when you're trying to keep an hour and a half, two hours of material in your head every day, it's not like a song, you have to do it in front of an audience.

The stage is not a normal place to be, so if you do it all the time, it becomes second nature. But if you go two weeks, or a month, you get on stage, you find yourself getting thrown. It's just something you have to do. All the comics I know, Seinfeld and those guys, they just work all the time. Sometimes it's a big venue, but on Sundays I work a little place called the Comedy and Magic Club at Hermosa Beach, it's only 150 seats but I do it every week just to break in new material.


I was one of those kids who learned by repetition. You just learn to do it and do it until it becomes second nature. When I was starting out as a comic we would always try to do the routine at home and write a letter with your other hand, because that's kind of what has to happen, because when you're on stage, there's always something, someone's throwing a shot glass or something, so you've got to not get distracted. So you've got to work all the time.

I have to say, it's still fun. I did it for a long time, you know, opening for Tom Jones, you know, "You suck, bring Tom out!", and you go through all those things. In Vegas they used to have the dinner shows, and your job was literally to stay on stage until all the plates were cleared off, so you'd be out there: "So anyway..." ka-klang, ka-klang! and the bus boys would come and they'd you know, literally pull the table cloths into one of those big cups, and then when the tables were clear, you'd say, "Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Jones!" or whoever.

So the idea that you get on stage now and there are actually people who want to see you...

That's still a novelty?

Well yeah, I have to admit it is.

NEXT PAGE: Jay Leno talks about David Letterman and plans for retirement

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