Thursday night marked the end of an era as Jay Leno stepped down as host of the Tonight Show.

Jay did a great job holding down the desk for over 22 years, taking over after the great Johnny Carson retired.I've seen Jay perform his stand-up a couple of times over the years. The first time was in Vegas in the 90s and the second time in New Mexico in 2001.

One of his funniest bits is about how his mom sent him to the corner drug store with a piece of paper to pick her up some feminine products and he had no clue what he was getting. So he proudly displayed the product in the basket of his bike and rode home.

I've also had the chance to meet him a couple of times. I first met him in the mid-eighties in Utica, NY while I was working at WNYZ-FM (now WLZW). The second time was when I was in L.A. at a taping of the Tonight Show and finally when I did some on-stage announcements and introduced him at a casino in Albuquerque.

The person that was interviewing Jay on the air in Utica, had a rough time. (For the record, I was NOT the person doing the interview). The first twenty minutes his microphone wasn't turned on, so they started the interview all over again. It was pretty embarrassing, but Jay was a trooper and took it all in stride.

That's one of the things I remember most about meeting Jay over the years - he took everything in stride with a smile and a positive attitude. There was never an ego with Jay.

photo by rick andrews
photo by rick andrews

Every time I had the chance to meet him he told me, 'You like Bill Gates.' Honestly, I still don't see the resemblance.

What you saw on TV is exactly how Jay was in person. He really is one of the hardest working guys in show business. He'd host the Tonight Show five nights a week and then do stand up on the weekend all over the country.

Billy Crystal and an all-star cast sing their goodbye to Jay.

In case you missed his swan song on Thursday night you can check out the below video. The thing to keep in mind as you watch this is Jay always plays things 'close to the vest,' but here he drops his guard for one of the rare times.


If you ever get a chance to see him in concert it is well worth the price of admission.


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