Skip to comments.(Jay) Leno appreciates Mississippi life
Posted on 05/26/2005 6:17:43 PM PDT by WKB
Few people are more influential in popular culture, or have more sway on our collective national consciousness, than Jay Leno.
As host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," a legendary and coveted role that allows the holder to become a gateway of sorts through which comedians, Hollywood stars and even the occasional presidential candidate or current first lady must pass, Leno, who performs two shows Saturday at the Beau Rivage, often sets the tone for what everyday people talk about the next day when they're gathered at the water cooler.
Following in the footsteps of Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson, Leno was crowned in 1992 following an infamous, behind-the-scenes Hollywood battle that pitted him against fellow comedian David Letterman. (The battle also left Leno and Letterman's friendship in tatters.)
"So I'm heading down to Biloxi," Leno said in a recent telephone interview with the Sun Herald. "I like Mississippi, actually.
... Yeah, you know I do like it a lot."
Raised in New England, Leno said his affinity for history and "old things" naturally drew him to the region.
"You know, it was very moving actually. Out here (in Los Angeles) Realtors describe houses built in the '50s as 'lovely mid-century homes.'...So to go down to Mississippi and see really old stuff, well, it's a very pretty place," said Leno.
"(Mississippi) kind of gets a bad rap because people make jokes, but it's actually quite nice. I like sort of the Southern way of doing things. I think if more people up North... .I mean, I found the times I've been in Biloxi I've seen much more, not to make it a racial issue, but much more mixed audiences than in a lot of like Northern places. You know what I'm saying?" said Leno. "I mean, I think the progress in those areas has been tremendous. Everybody's friendly, everybody's very nice, everybody intermingles. You go to some Northern towns that are supposed to be so progressive, and these people live here, these people live there. Then you can go down to Mississippi and everybody gets along and does their business. And I'm not an idiot, I know there are problems everywhere. But it's certainly not what a lot of people think of.
"When I spent some time there I see why people are drawn to it. I can feel the pull of why people would like it. I sort of like country types of places, so I like that nice mix they have in Mississippi. I like the lyrical way people talk. I mean, there's a politeness in the society that you don't get in a lot of other places, you know?"
In fact, said Leno, he finds Mississippi "a real comfortable place to be. And you know it's interesting, with the Internet and cable, everybody now has access to the same information. You know, people think of the idea of going some place as a performer, the guys coming out in bib overalls and big straw hats in the audience. I mean, those days are pretty much gone forever."
Leno also said he admires the general regional attitude.
"The South has more fun with its heritage than I think anybody else, whether it's Jeff Foxworthy with the redneck jokes or something else. You know, New Yorkers and everybody else, all these people take themselves so seriously. Whereas, you know, I think Southerners can have a good time with it," he said.
Perhaps because if we don't laugh, we'll cry?
"There you go. I guess that's probably a good way to put it," said Leno.
And why does a man whose annual salary is in the millions bother to spend so much time on the road, traveling from one town to the next?
"I like to be a comedian. I never wanted to be a TV personality. You know when you're a TV personality, and you don't have a TV show, you have no personality. And my mom would always say, 'Just have something to fall back on.'...That's what this is. I was a comedian before I had this job. I've been lucky with this job, it's worked out terrific. But sooner or later I'm going to leave this job... .Plus, telling jokes is a lot of fun. I mean, I did this for the longest period, where (people said) 'You suck, you stink, where's Tom Jones?' You're the opening act, and nobody's paying any attention. And now, to get to the point where people are actually coming to see it, it's great. It's a lot of fun," Leno said.
Does the attention become like a drug? Do you get addicted to it?
"No, you don't become addicted to it. You know what it is? Probably a terrible analogy, but the first rule in show business is: Don't fall in love with a hooker. OK. You know, I mean? I realize this is not for a family newspaper. But you know, the idea of show business is, you enjoy it, you have a good time and as long as you have the same friends you had in high school, you keep a pretty stable (existence).
"I mean, the most beautiful women in the world come out and talk to me on the show, and I say to myself, 'Look, these women wouldn't talk to me when I was 25, and I know I'm not in better shape than I was back then. So why are they talking to me now?' Because I'm the host of 'The Tonight Show,' and not because I'm more handsome or I'm cuter. You just have to put things in perspective."
Working on the road also helps him, in a sense, keep it real, Leno said.
"When you work in TV, everyone will tell you how hilarious and funny you are, because they get paid to do that. And you don't really get a real life assessment. If I go to Biloxi and there's only 50 people in the audience, my TV show is chum. But if I go there and I'm sold out both shows, then I guess we're doing OK. You know, it's really a matter of sort of going around the country and sort of taking care of your customers."
And though we talked at length about other things, I'm quickly running out of space. So here are a few quick hits about the man: The only time Leno ever got stage fright was performing for then-President Ronald Reagan. One presidential aide told him whatever he did, don't make fun of the president. Another aide told him, "Reagan loves it, just nail him with any jokes you have about him or his policies."
...On the vagaries of fame: "You become fairly well-known. There comes a point where you can't do things. I mean I'll tell you an example," said Leno, who doesn't smoke, drink or gamble.
He explained that he was once at a newsstand looking through automotive magazines when he spied "this incredible-looking woman on the cover of a magazine called 'Perfect 10'
" (a magazine that features topless, non-silicone enhanced women). So, just like a lot of regular guys, he picks it up and starts thumbing through it.
"And I hear '(adopting a nasal tone) Mr. Leno?' I turn around and there's a guy, his wife and two 12-year-old daughters standing there. Now the father's looking at me like, 'You pervert.' And I'm like 'No, I just, uh, let me sign that.' And I put it down and go ehhh! I felt like a freak. You know I'm just doing something every guy does. And I'm so old and now I can't do that," said Leno. "So that's one of the disadvantages (of fame). I don't mind it when I'm by myself. But it's a little tricky when I'm with my wife, because people go, 'Is he funny at home? What's he like?' After the 80th time you answer that stupid question you get a little annoyed. But that's not really a complaint."
WERE you too lazy, NOT we're.
Not igorant - just in a hurry.
I have a graphic for the "grammar police" but I can't post it.... I see now that it contains the f word...lol
Simple answer: Yes.
Dayum b, when you cut and paste back to me,... first PLEASE correct my errors...lol.
Again, I was too lazy.
FOTFL! Good enough! I really wish that grammar graphic I located, didn't contain the f word, because otherwise, it's just perfect. I think I'll ask one of the talented guys to do a little editing.
so, are you fixin' to be in V'burg full time?
Anyway, if Leno is thinking of moving, I wouldn't mind helping with his vehicles.
*sigh* yeah *sigh* again --- it'll be full time, but I am awfully beat right now. Totally stressed. I've been stalling and going in circles. This move is quite the undertaking. Instead of sorting thru everything twice, a debris box will be delivered in an hour that's 18' long, 8' wide, and 6' high. I've decided to toss out everything I know I don't want or can't take, and then pack only what's left. This way I should only have to handle each item once! I was supposed to have been there last week to greet the first moving van, but the hell with it. I hired two men to unload it.
I'm finding it it difficult to say good by to people... knowing I'll never see them alive again. Up until that load left here last week, I was close to successfully stopping the whole move because we could have made good money selling that beautiful old house to someone who's trying to acquire a number of the old homes...lol. But, the doctor loves it, so I'm going along for the "ride."
Are you getting ready to be daddy to another little one?
Who is Jay Leno? /sarcasm
yup. it won't be long at all now. The lovely Ms. Bourbon is almost full-term.
I was at Keesler AFB for tech school in '82. I made it to the mall and some of the coastal bars a few times. I wish I ventured out more but back then we were told to be careful, because there was some lingering bad blood between the base and the locals. I don't know what about though.
All the educated and employed service members were taking the local rednecks' girl friends off to places far, far away. The drunken local mob was alway picking a fight with the military to cause trouble.
BTW I would rather live in a Mississipi swamp
than any damn where New York.
I really enjoyed reading this!
My thanks for posting it, WKB...
for requesting the post, wardaddy...
and for finding the article, bourbon.
Y'all work well together, but I have
never seen so many people involved
in posting one thread. ;o)
You must have a good stockpile of RAID to keep the bugs off if you 'would rather live in a Mississippi swamp."
Your house looks nice and I do not see a swamp around, at least in front, thus your only saying that bit about you would rather living in a swamp.
How many people live in New York City, Long Island and Upstate New York and how many people live where you do. Nobody forces anyone to live anywhere. There are numerous reasons why down there has a tiny population. The numbers say it all.
In the final analysis, to each his own, right?
See post #56 and have a nice weekend!!!