Politico digs up Leno’s recycled Tonight Show monologue jokes for WHCD: Scandal or not?

When you have a very big, high-profile gig coming up, you want to practice your routines and hone them so they'll really pop when it's showtime. You'll likely want to show off your best new material, or the best of your old stuff. That's how most stand-up comedians prepare for a TV set.

Not Jay Leno. Leno famously still continues to perform stand-up in addition to his Tonight Show duties. So what to make of the news that Politico dug up — apparently either a slow day in politics or because they're on Team Coco — finding out that Leno barely brought anything new or special to the dais as the paid headliner for the White House Correspondents Dinner. Sure, Leno got upstaged by President Barack Obama, whom we learned hired writers from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to craft custom zingers for him. But to see that Leno didn't even put the same amount of professional delivery into his old Tonight Show monologue jokes the second time around? That's just embarrassing. But is it scandalous? Watching Leno look down and have such a difficult time reading jokes he already had delivered, it looks more pathetic than anything else. It's like he didn't even try. He had the president, the nation's press corps and A-list celebrities all with their eyes on him. And he just went through the motions. Sad. Roll the clip.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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2 thoughts on “Politico digs up Leno’s recycled Tonight Show monologue jokes for WHCD: Scandal or not?

  1. It’s definitely NOT a scandal in the sense that he has no obligation to bring in killer material or A game. That said, it’s a scandal from a comedic perspective – here’s Jay, with the opportunity few people will ever have, and he trots out whatever filler kills time without trying anything biting, salient, or simply clever.
    But that’s who Leno is – he wants the platform and the billing itself, but not to utilize it for any particular purpose. Come to think of it, he values comedy like he values (most of) his collector’s cars: he wants the possessions to sit idly by, to be used for show and not for going somewhere.
    Comics with eons more experience than me can debate the merits of that – I at least understand/empathize Leno’s state – but that really seems to be his weird case.

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