Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jey Leno's Rope-a-Dope Strategy

In his recent interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Jay Leno spoke candidly about all sorts of things. However, it did leave me with a couple of questions.

Number one: "Jay, are you having fun?" For all the talk about laughs at 10 PM, Leno appears to approach his job with a kind of grim determination. A couple illustrative quotes: "I think people like a fighter. And if you just keep swinging, eventually people are going to get tired of hitting you. They're going to say, 'We've been beating this guy up for six months, let's move on.'" And: "I get a certain amount of satisfaction from pounding my head against the wall."

Those statements made me think of Muhammad Ali's old "rope-a-dope" strategy, in which a fighter allows himself to be punched until his opponent tires out and starts making mistakes. It may be effective in certain circumstances, but you still wind up bruised and battered.

The only indication in the article that Leno enjoys what he's doing is this: "
I like being on TV and writing jokes." Not exactly a passionate statement. If Jay had worked at a supermarket instead of becoming a comedian, he probably would have been like that 104-year-old who still stocked the shelves well into his eleventh decade, or a lottery winner who keeps his routine factory job after his big score. I admire his work ethic; I also wish his show was funnier.

Number two: "What's it like to be married to Jay Leno?" Forget about the Obamas, I want the dirt on the Leno marriage. Mavis Leno is, by all accounts, not one of those Beverly Hills ladies-who-lunch who fills her days with pilates classes and appointments with her plastic surgeon; she has been active for over 10 years in the Feminist Majority Foundation's Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan. Still, considering Jay's workaholism, as well as his time-consuming hobby of tinkering with old cars, this must be a woman who spends a lot of time on her own. Jay famously claims never to vacation; if he ever did go on a pleasure trip, he'd probably be one of those guys who plans the entire thing from a guidebook before he leaves home: "If we leave the Louvre by noon, we can get to the Eiffel Tower by one!" Does Mavis go off and see the world by herself or with girlfriends? David Letterman may not be a candidate for Husband of the Year, but at least he spends his breaks with Regina and Harry in Montana or St. Barts instead of playing Vegas showrooms or appearing at corporate gigs.

I did find one brief interview with both Lenos, and she alludes a couple times about the difficulty of adjusting to Jay's job at "Tonight" ("[H]e was gone a lot, and it was not only a new situation for him, it was a situation I had never experienced"). Since they're celebrating their 30th anniversary next year, she obviously managed to find a way to deal with it.


  1. Anonymous said...

    I may not respect Leno as a comedian, but I do have respect for anyone who has managed to stay married for that long. Specially someone in show business. Good for him and his wife to have found a balance and a way to plow ahead as he supposedly does with his career.


  2. Shane G. said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  3. Anonymous said...

    Speaking of Leno's home life, I wonder what happened to his/their cat, Cheese (sp?).

  4. Anonymous said...

    Speaking of Leno, I see on your lineups page you have Gov. Schwarzenegger as one of his guests on 11/3 and "The latest 'Biggest Loser' castoff" on 11/10. I caught his show on 11/3 and the latest "Biggest Loser" castoff was on but Schwarzenegger was not. Are those two listings inadvertently switched or did Schwarzenegger cancel his appearance scheduled for 11/3?

  5. Talk Show News said...

    I'm guessing Ahnuld has other things to worry about these days... he must have canceled. The Leno show's publicists don't do a very good job of alerting the media about schedule changes, so I guess I missed it. thanks for the heads up.