Houston Matters

Comedian Jay Leno Says He’s Not ‘A Netflix Special Guy’

The retired host of the Tonight Show still enjoys trying his material out on the road, including here in Houston this weekend.

Jay Leno
Comedian Jay Leno in 2017.


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While longtime late night mainstay Jay Leno retired as host of the Tonight Show a few years back, he continues to tour extensively, including a show here in Houston Friday night at Jones Hall.

Leno tells Houston Public Media’s Ernie Manouse why he still does it after all these years. He says he was lucky to get to do a television show but still traveled the country doing live shows while he was hosting the Tonight Show.

“TV shows only last, you know, a finite amount of time,” Leno said. “I was lucky mine lasted 22 years, and that was a great run. But it’s fun to write jokes and tell jokes. And I like to go around the country and try them out.”

He says he prefers the energy of a live audience.

“I’m not a Netflix special guy, I’m not an Amazon special guy,” he said. “I like the idea of having a live crowd and just taking the jokes from town to town and just perfecting them.”

In the audio above, Leno talks about one of his first acting gigs, which was on the TV show Good Times (where he embarrassed his mother by playing a patient at a venereal disease clinic), about how his comedy has evolved as he’s aged, and how the daily cycle of late night television affected how he did comedy.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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