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Through the years, "The Tonight Show," a late-night TV marathon on NBC, has been a kind of barometer of what makes Americans laugh. Leading the laugh-athon as host for many of those years is a portly, smiley, stand-up comedian named Jay Leno. Each night he faces the camera with a bemused, somewhat unbelieving look as he waves his arms and comments on the latest folly to befall the American way of life.

For a stand-up comedian whose high school guidance counselor suggested he drop out of school, Leno has come a long way. Born in New Rochelle, New York, in 1950, he grew up in Andover, Massachusetts - where he ran into the guidance counselor. Instead of dropping out, he went on to Emerson College, earning a bachelor's degree in speech therapy and starting a comedy club. In the 1970s, he landed mostly minor roles in several television series, but his big break came in 1987. He began to substitute for comic Johnny Carson, the regular, wildly popular, and loved (or hated) host of "The Tonight Show." When in 1992 Carson announced his retirement after 30 years on the job, Leno shocked most TV audiences by taking over and apparently outclassing David Letterman. Rumors had spread that comic Letterman was next in line for Carson's throne.

Now the question was: Who could compete with the success of Carson? For a while, it looked as though the answer was "not Leno." He remained as host untl 2009, when comic Conan O'Brien took over. Leno stayed with NBC as host of "The Jay Leno Show," which featured celebrity interviews. However, by 2010 it seemed clear that neither Leno nor O'Brien were in the right place. Ratings were down for both, so NBC made a move. O'Brien took a payout and left "The Tonight Show." Leno was back as host on March 1, 2010, amid some criticism for what was perceived as his part in O'Brien's dismissal.

Since that time, "The Tonight Show" - still the late night's most-watched TV program - and Leno of the prominent jaw are back in business. For thousands of viewers who can't sleep, "Heeeeeere's Johnny" has been replaced by "Welcome back, Jay!"

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Weekdays 10:35 PM et/pt on NBC
21 Seasons, 1715 Episodes - Currently Airing
Talk & Interview, Comedy, Celebrity & Entertainment
7.4/10
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
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The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Full Episode Guide

  • Billy Crystal, Garth Brooks

  • Sandra Bullock, Blake Shelton, Vintage Trouble

  • Matthew McConaughey, Charles Barkley, Lyle Lovett

  • Jimmy Fallon, Betty White, Bonnie Raitt

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno News

Jay Leno Bids 'The Tonight Show' Farewell. Jimmy Fallon Steps in.

After tons and tons of speculation and rumors, as well as a handful of jokes by Jay Leno himself, NBC has officially announced Jay Leno’s final date as the host of “The Tonight Show”. Upon Jay Leno’s departure, NBC will be ‘promoting’ Jimmy Fallon to host of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in the Spring of 2014, and renaming it “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” (logically). Jay Leno has been hosting “The Tonight Show” for over 22 years, taking over for the great Johnny Carson in 1992, and with his departure brings the end of an era.

Jay Leno Tears Into NBC For Replacing Him With Jimmy Fallon

Jay Leno is not going down without a fight. After finding out that he will be replaced by Jimmy Fallon at the end of next year, Leno has been making sure his monologues are chock-full of jabs at NBC for giving him the boot. NBC plans to move “The Tonight Show” from California to New York so Fallon can take over as host (on a brand new set, to add insult to injury). The show may also return to a 90-minute format. So how is Leno reacting to forced retirement? Not well. The news was only released this week—no doubt we can expect plenty more low-blows for the network until Leno is dragged, kicking and screaming, from behind his desk.

Jay Leno Finally Gets The Boot

Is Jay Leno finally getting the official boot from NBC? Well, they’re sure going to try. Leno’s contract expires in 2014, and unlike in 2009 when Leno insisted he wanted to stay with the network, work is now that enough is enough. The network is looking to hand the show to someone younger… Jimmy Fallon, if the rumors are to be believed. Talent agents have announced that NBC has approached them to find a new host for Fallon’s 12:35 am time slot. Next month, Fallon’s show will move to 11:35 pm.

Wanda Sykes Picks At Mitt Romney's Gay-Marriage Stance

Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. And with President Obama surging after publicly supporting gay-marriage legalization, Wanda Sykes will naturally take to the offensive. The comic, who publicly came out as a lesbian in November 2008 at a Las Vegas rally supporting California's Proposition 8, was Jay Leno's guest on Tuesday's "The Tonight Show" and came across as venomous toward Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as she was proud of Obama's "Good Morning America" declaration last week.

Jay Leno Hears Crickets After Casey Anthony Jokes (VIDEO)

You know your joke is bad when your audience, who spent hours waiting outside in line to get into your show and is prompted to laugh at your every word, goes silent. We're looking at you, Jay Leno. Leno was one of only a few news-covering comedians on the air last night, as "The Daily Show with John Stewart" and "The Colbert Report" were on vacation. So it was up to Jay to joke about Casey Anthony, who was determined innocent last night of everything except for providing false information to police officers, which is a misdemeanor.

Go On, Make Fun Of Her NOW: Rebecca Black Donates 'Friday' Proceeds to Japan

Ever since Rebecca Black's pop song (and I'm using the term "song" loosely here) "Friday" became a viral hit on YouTube, the signer has been very often ridiculed. But like her or not, Black made a case last night on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" that her sudden fame isn't such a bad thing: she announced that some of the proceeds from her music video will go towards helping victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. So far, the song has ranked as high as #33 on iTunes and sold about 40,000 copies.

Howard Stern Thrashes Jay Leno in an Interview

Howard Stern is not a fan of Jay Leno. Actually, Howard completely trashed Jay’s jokes, his fans and even his reputation while doing an interview with Piers Morgan on his new CNN show. That’s Piers’ new show, not Stern’s in case you were freaking out there. The show aired on Tuesday night and many people who watched it or have read about it today wonder how Jay will respond – if at all – today. How can Jay not address the fact that Howard insulted his fans, accuses him of stealing jokes and says he is a jerk over the whole Conan O’Brien late night disaster? He said to Piers via his CNN blog: "I won't do [his show] again.

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