Critics haven’t been kind to Jay Leno’s brand of humor.
Leno hosted The Tonight Show for 22 years, drawing solid ratings along the way. He still never got the kudos fellow late night comic David Letterman received. Leno wasn’t “edgy” or “subversive” enough. To make matters worse, the gregarious host was forced out not once but twice from his iconic talk show perch.
That makes the news that Leno will be the next recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor all the more rewarding for the hard-working comic.
The honor recognizes Leno’s work making us laugh for decades.
Like Mark Twain, Jay Leno has offered us a lifetime’s worth of humorous commentary on American daily life,” Kennedy Center chairman David Rubenstein in the press release this morning. “For both men, no one was too high or too low to escape their wit, and we are all the better for it.
In recent years, Leno became the only late night host to repeatedly mock the president, a task once deemed essential to the gig pre-2008. His Tonight Show replacement, Jimmy Fallon, appears to have learned that lesson, and the show’s ratings remain sky high.
Take a bow, Jay. You’ve earned it.
Follow Christian Toto on Twitter @TotoMovies