Do you ever feel like when it comes to politics, there’s just no winning? Well, you’re not alone. Jay Leno feels the exact same way when mixing politics with comedy. Now that the comedy legend is back behind a daily host desk, Leno spoke out about the fine line comedians have to walk when it comes to hot-button topics.
Before appearing on Last Man Standing, Jay Leno was the last man standing on The Tonight Show stage in 2014. Now, Jimmy Fallon leads the laughter as the show’s host, but it didn’t take long for Leno to miss the thrills of a live show. Of course, he still does stand-up acts around the country, but this isn’t the same as sitting behind a desk with a namesake coffee mug while chatting with esteemed guests.
Even with the perks of a daily TV gig, Leno decided the strife that came with tiptoeing around political issues wasn’t worth the effort. In fact, in an interview with Deadline, Leno expressed his frustrations with how comedy shows have evolved into polarizing programs that tend to alienate viewers on the other side of the social spectrum.
“Every comedy show now is just divided by politics,” he shared with the publication. “When I started The Tonight Show, we used to get credit for making fun of both sides equally. That lasted only so long, and then people started yelling at you for not taking one side or the other.”
Jay Leno Returns to Live Comedy in a Different Capacity
Unlike other comedy show hosts, Jay Leno didn’t want to dip his toes in that hot water. He preferred to remain politically neutral in his program for the sake of better connections with his guests and audience members.
“It’s fascinating. If you don’t bring up politics, you find you have a lot in common with people you don’t agree with politically,” Jay Leno said.
Now that he’s back to live TV, Leno will keep the politics out of comedy as the host of Fox’s reboot of You Bet Your Life. Originally broadcasted from 1947 to 1961, the trivia show, hosted by Groucho Marx, was one of the most popular game shows at the time. Standing beside longtime friend Kevin Eubanks, Jay Leno will lead the hilarious game between two opposing teams.
“Almost every late-night talk show is a spinoff of the original Tonight Show,” Leno explained. “They all have a desk and a stage and a band. They all kind of do that. This is almost exactly like the old Groucho show, because that show was about Groucho talking to people. There wasn’t any buffer in between. And people seemed to like that.”