SALAMANCA, N.Y. — Comedic legend Jay Leno will perform his hilarious trademark brand of everyman humor at the Seneca Allegany Event Center Saturday at 7 p.m.
Leno’s laid back-style of standup comedy has made him one of America’s favorite personalities. Widely characterized as “the hardest working man in show business,” he’s an acclaimed TV late night show host and admired stand-up comedian.
His additional accomplishments include best-selling children’s book author, TV and movie voice-over artist, pioneering car builder and mechanic, actor, columnist and philanthropist.
The legendary comedian became a household name in 1992 when he followed in the footsteps of other legendary NBC late-night hosts Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny Carson as “The Tonight Show” host for over two decades.
Leno’s career began in nightclubs where he worked 300 nights a year before hitting it big with his own late-night talk show. “The Mike Douglas Show” was his first talk show appearance in October 1977. He got his first break that same year when he debuted on NBC’s “The Tonight Show.” Ten years later, he became Johnny Carson’s permanent guest host from 1992 until 2009, and again from 2010 until 2014.
The former talk show host currently emcees the game show, “You Bet Your Life,” and formerly hosted “Jay Leno’s Garage” on CNBC. He still hosts another version of the show on YouTube which, he said, is more technical and about the cars.
Among his many honors, Leno is the recipient of Emmy awards, People’s Choice and TV Guide awards, The Mark Twain Prize for Comedy, a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and the Patriot Award given by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Leno said he’s returning to the Las Vegas strip March 31 when he’ll headline at Wynn’s Encore Theater for the first time. He said he has performed in Las Vegas for years including at the MGM Grand for 15 years and the Mirage for 20 years.
However, he has not performed in Vegas since last November when he was severely burned in an accident while repairing the fuel line in a 1907 White Steam Car in his collection. Just weeks after his burn incident, he was back on the road performing until he had another accident in January while testing his 1940 Indian motorcycle and got knocked off the bike.
After all he’s been through the last few months, Leno still has his sense of humor.
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“I got third-degree burns all over my face and I was in the hospital for about nine days, but they gave me a new face and, boom, I was back to work the next weekend,” he said. “Right now, I have a broken collar-bone, two broken ribs and two cracked kneecaps, but it’s OK. I just have to walk a little bit slower. I was the 72-year-old guy on an 83-year-old motorcycle. What can happen there?”
Maintaining classic cars and motorcycles is one of Leno’s hobbies and, according to CNN, he has one of the world’s most spectacular automobile collections. He said he has 204 classic cars including his first vehicle, a 1934 Ford V-8 truck, and around 168 motorcycles.
“I still have my Buick Roadmaster, the first car I got when I came to California. I met my wife in the car and we got married in the car. I took it to my first ‘Tonight Show’ and took it to my last ‘Tonight Show,’” he said. “That’s my baby. I have some history with that one.”
The car and motorcycle enthusiast was inducted into the Sturgis (South Dakota) Motorcycle Hall of Fame, has set several land speed records and became the first person to drive the pace car at all major NASCAR events.
Born in New Rochelle, and raised in Andover, Mass., his birth name is James Douglas Muir Leno. His father, who was a professional boxer, an insurance salesman and a genuinely funny guy, influenced his desire to become a comedian. At his mother’s insistence, he earned a bachelor’s degree in speech therapy from Emerson College in Boston.
Leno and his wife, Mavis, an ardent human rights activist, reside in Beverly Hills.
Keeping with his laid back-style of standup, Leno has taken all politics out of his act and hopes the audience at Saturday night’s performance will just sit back, relax and laugh. He said people admired the fact that he made fun of both sides equally, when he was hosting “The Tonight Show” but things are different these days.
“People listen to hear what the joke is about first then they think, ‘Is it for my candidate or against my candidate?’ They have to think about that before they even laugh,” he said. “Rodney Dangerfield was a good friend of mine. In the 40 years I knew him, I had no idea who he voted for or if he was a Republican or a Democrat. I didn’t care. It was just about the jokes and that’s what made him great.”
For more information, visit senecaalleganycasino.com. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.