Jay Leno has worn many hats- late night host, stand-up comedian, and car-enthusiast (to name a few)- and on Sunday, May 31st, he can add one more; Long Center performer.
The tried and true funnyman will be in our own Dell Hall for an evening of quirks, jokes, and laughs. Leno recently sat down with CultureMap Austin to talk about his stand-up act, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Texas BBQ, and everything in between.
“Comedy is not one of those things — if you stop, you can’t really start again,” he says. “If you stop telling jokes for a year, when you get back, it’s like you have to go back all the way to the beginning.”
Being on the road offers Leno the chance to perfect his jokes, based on instant audience reaction. His addiction to making people laugh — to crafting the perfect joke — is something we can all relate to, he says. “When somebody tells you a funny joke, and you can’t wait to tell it to everyone who passes by your desk, by the end of the day you can tell that joke well.”
Now that he’s traded in late night TV for stand-up gigs, Leno sees a new era of late night coming to life. “Dave [Letterman] and I were from the time where you could watch the monologue and see what the host had to say about the events of the day. Nowadays, it’s more about the viral videos,” he says.
Most people are drawn to late night television after seeing a buzzy clip on YouTube (lip sync battles, anyone?), says Leno. But he gives props to his Tonight Show successor. “Jimmy Fallon does a great job. He brings a different a vibe.”
Funnily enough, Leno’s latest project began with a web series on YouTube. Jay Leno’s Garage, which is all about fast cars, will be part of NBC prime time programming by the end of the year. Before he comes to Austin this weekend, Leno is in Uvalde, Texas filming for the show. He’s trying to get a Ford Mustang to go 200 mph.
The motor junkie says he’s excited to visit his favorite Texas city.
“[Austin] has a California feel to it,” he says. “It has some hills, and I’m a motorcycle guy, so I like to ride when I’m here.” That and squeeze in a trip in to his favorite local barbecue joint, Iron Works BBQ.