Posted On February 19, 2014 By In Television

Growing Up Leno: A Personal Experience


This week, the Tonight Show returned to its New York roots as Jimmy Fallon took over. To some, it signals a welcome ending to an era. But to others, such as yours truly, it brings back fond memories of the past two decades.


Satellite TV

Jay Leno is an only child, and so am I. Throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school, my parents and I would finish every evening by watching Jay Leno on the east coast NBC station (meaning on the west coast it was 8:30). This was our time to come together as a family after a long day of work and school, and laugh together over Bill Clinton sex jokes. I saw a different side of my father when we’d watch Jay. He is usually a quiet man, but Jay made him laugh like no one else. It makes me happy just thinking about it. Sitting on the couch with our dachshunds who are fast asleep, and waking them up with every bit of laughter. Those were the good times. If I had a bad day, I would crack up at some jokes with my parents and feel better. Jay’s Tonight Show helped bond us as a family, more than any other television program.


A Stand Up Comic

Jay’s sense of humor is what made him unique. He wasn’t a slapstick guy like Conan, nor was he into sketches like Fallon. He was a standup comic at heart, and this style was reflected in his time away from the show. Jay would travel the road on weekends, performing standup shows for a few extra bucks. While his Tonight Show salary was somewhere close to $30 million, he would rake in another $20 million in appearances. That’s impressive, considering the man is 63 years old. I’m 23 and I don’t have that much energy. The man never got tired. There is no one more passionate in their craft than Leno.


Jay’s Last Words

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch the last Tonight Show, but I heard about it the following morning on the radio. As I’m driving home from Burbank, the station plays Jay’s final words from the Tonight Show. And I’m not gonna lie, this brought tears to my eyes. It was my childhood coming back to me. Thank you for 22 golden years, Jay.

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Brian Wray is a writer for Writtalin. A self-proclaimed hipster who makes his home in San Diego, he recently escaped LA after working in production and casting for the past 2 years. His interests are tennis, recording music, and more tennis. Follow his various works at And Twitter him @BrianWrayMedia