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                                                    Jay Leno


                            Max Hunsaker


Jay Leno; moral sellout, or comedian extrodanaire? You be the judge.

Seldom in life do we come across a person who is so charismatic and
charming that they endure themselves to the fabric of American life.
Jay Leno, host of The Tonight Show, is certainly not one of these
special people. The most amazing fact of his life is that he was at
the right place at the right time, but not much more than that. He has
had some undeniably unique experiences, but when a majority of the
stories happen in strip joints or gay cruise lines, one has to ponder
the moral standards of this person. I chose to study Jay Leno because
he is a humorous person, and he appeared to have an interesting life.
Jay Leno had an upbringing typical of an accountant or banker. His
mother was an immigrant from Scotland, and his father was a first
generation Italian-American. They raised their two boys in wholesome
Andover, Massachusetts. Mr. Leno was a door-to-door insurance
salesman, selling insurance to Spanish speaking areas of New York
City. Jayıs childhood is filled with wonderful stories of his parents.
No matter what he did, whether it be rolling the family car or
skipping school, his parents where always there to support him. One
incident in particular, Jay was performing at Carnegie Hall, and the
audience was laughing at his jokes. His mother was so proud that she
stood up and started shushing the entire crowd so she could hear her
son perform. His parents created a home life where all talents were
fostered and cultivated. As a result, Jay has become a successful
Some of Jayıs career choices do go against his upbringing. For a
number of years in the beginning of his career, the only places he
could get a job were strip joints. Needless to say, he met some
interesting people. A short summary of events that happened to him
while performing at such businesses includes: mobsters who spared his
life and loaned him their guns, nights when he was mugged on stage,
his clothes were set afire, and through all of this, he had a small
group of brave and naked strippers who beat up his hecklers. When he
speaks of these years, they arenıt a time heıs not proud of. He
reflects upon his time of telling dirty jokes and dodging scantily
clad ladies with great nostalgia. Eventually though, Jay was able to
work his way up and out of Eastern strip joints, and into the
fashionable comedy clubs of southern California. It was at one of
these clubs, The Comedy Store, where he worked with the likes of David
Letterman, Robin Williams, Andy Kaufman, and Steve Martin, that he met
his future wife, Mavis, in front of a ladies room. The variety of
venues that Jay has worked at in his life demonstrates the degrading
and silly things you have to
go through to make people laugh.
Jay has had many experiences that are unparalleled by any other
people. Aside from his years of brothel performances, he was taught
the art of comedy by some of the greats. He was the unofficial student
of Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin. Itıs also interesting to note that
the other people being tutored at the same time by these men where
David Letterman and Gary Shandling. Individuals who where taught by
those two men seem destined for success. Another aspect of Jay Lenoıs
life that most people arenıt faced with is a constant reference to his
face. Quotes from several publications illustrate this. From
Cosmopolitan, ³Leno, whose chin is the size of West Virginia², or from
the Los Angeles Times, ³Leno, the pelican-faced comedian², and my
personal favorite, from Seventeen, ³Leno looks like a guy who got his
start performing in the lounge of Psychoıs Bates Motel.² Jay is
probably on the list of Americaıs most unattractive people, but heıs
also on the list of Americaıs most successful.
Jay  Leno is really a complicated man. He has worked in some of the
more indecent locations in the country, learned the art of comedy from
the masters, and landed a job that many people would kill for. But
after studying him, I do have some preconceptions that were changed.
In the beginning, I thought he was an interesting person, now I
realize just how boring he is. He has no life to speak of. All of his
world is centered around his job. Centering your life around something
as unimportant as that is a very scary thing. After your talk show run
is over, what do you have show for it? Nothing at all. After he spends
most of his life striving to achieve his goals, all heıll have to show
for it is a paycheck. No one can deny that he does have the ability to
be funny. I still continue to think he is a funny person, but I
wouldnıt recommend him as a role model. He is truly an example of what
a person can achieve if he stoops where no man will go, tells the
jokes no one else will touch, and be prepared to face the

Max Hunsaker is a sixteen-year-old sophmore from Utah.  He's the assistant editor of Kid Ink.