funny guys

Jay Leno’s 11:35pm Reign Ends Tonight. Who’s Gonna Miss His Gay Jokes?


Just because tonight is the last time he’ll host The Tonight Show after a 17-year-run doesn’t mean Jay Leno is going anywhere. He’ll be popping up five nights a week at 10pm on NBC this fall! So there’s no real loss of Leno, just a time change. But will a new time slot change Leno’s lowest common denominator punchlines? Probably not. But will it make Leno more gay-friendly?

That’s a more difficult question.

Leno has a not-so-great history with the gays. Like any comedian, Leno steps into controversial territory now and then for the sake of a laugh. This is the nature of the humor business, and sometimes it can go over well. Other times, not.

Sure, you’ll rarely find a white comedian who broaches racial jokes, but sometimes they do, and sometimes they’re funny! And it’s not like straight comedians can’t make gay jokes. They can.

Craig Kilborn did it: “Governor Schwarzenegger has come out against gay marriage and then he went back to slathering body oil all over his muscles in front of other guys.”

Craig Ferguson, too: “Republicans say they plan to press for a constitution amendment to ban gay marriage. Because the founding fathers intended gay sex to be very casual. They didn’t want it to be married.” And: “Maine legalized gay marriage today. Maine became comfortable with the idea after years of touching Canada.”

But how come whenever Leno approaches Gaytown, we cringe?

The late night host’s most recent gay joke scandal involved Ryan Phillippe, who Leno asked the Stop-Loss star to make his best gay face for the camera. “Can you give me your gayest look? Say that camera is Billy Bob… Billy Bob has just ridden in shirtless from Wyoming.” (Smartly, Phillippe refused to play along.)

Leno ended up apologizing for the incident, but only after folks like Avenue Q writer Jeff Whitty (seen in the interview clip above) publicly complained about the incident.

Of course, this isn’t Leno’s first time making gays the butt of a joke. He’s turned to Brokeback Mountain (“Both Crash and Brokeback Mountain had similar themes: Whether you’re a driver in L.A. or a cowboy in Montana, keep checking your rearview mirror … you don’t know who’s coming up behind you.”) and all but painted Hillary Clinton as a bull dyke during the presidential campaign. (Conan O’Brien has entered this territory, too.)

The problem with Leno, then, isn’t that he makes gay jokes. It’s that he does so at the expense of gay people. His comedy doesn’t make us feel included, but hijacked. Maybe this has something to do with Leno’s target audience (middle-aged Middle America or something), so you know he’s kowtowing to a demographic that might have a gay friend, but finds ruthless gay humor HYS-TER-I-CAL. But how come other late night comedians manage to include our kind in their punchlines in a way that even we start laughing?

What will differ with Leno’s move to 10pm isn’t quite clear, but we expect the more risque humor will be toned down for the earlier hour. Whether that includes his terribly unfunny attempt at gay humor is anyone’s guess.

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  • dgz

    i hope his new show fails, just because the idea of 4 straight hours of late night talk is ridiculous. and was he EVER funny? i vote to kick them all and hire Graham Norton.

  • mikeandrewsdantescove

    I think Jay Leno is overexposed and don’t think his new show will make it in the long-term. More over Jay – Conan is stealing your thunder.



    Cathy Dennis – Just Another Dream

    Remember everything thought Rick Astley sang the male vocals but it was Dancin’ Danny D

    Mike Andrews – Dream

    Music Producer – Doug Laurent who worked with La Bouche’s Be My Lover & Culture Beat’s Mr. Vain

  • Qjersey

    Ugh, never watched him, never will.

    And can we please stop calling TV shows watched by less than 10% of the population “hits” (300 million Americans, “hit” show with 5 million viewers)

  • hardmannyc

    I think he’s a total square, but if this passes for “anti-gay humor,” we have a pretty thin collective skin.

  • martymartymarty

    His gay jokes are lame and old-fashioned. Of late, he has had many “spoof” clips featuring him and Kevin Eubanks as a couple. They’re stupid, but I don’t find them offensive. He may make jokes at our expense, but they’re not hateful like they could be –they’re just … lame.

    And David Letterman is just as unable to resist making similar jokes. He’s told a “Bernie Madoff as a prison bitch” joke at least every night these last couple of months. Why not bitch about him a little bit, too?

  • Alexa

    Does anyone apart from middle aged straight white men watch Leno any more?

  • Ted B.

    As someone who has friends that know Jay personally outside of his TV gig, he’s not a homophobe nor a hater…just an entertainer. And one major change between the Tonight Show and his new show will be he’ll have creative control and production rights. It’s important to remember that Jay doesn’t right the monologue nor maby of the interview quips, he’s just an employee. The staff writes it and they’re an uneven bunch so there’s no one-viewpoint…Jay just gets to polish it a bit and work the timing. He doesn’t even get much control over the guests whom are mostly shilling some CD, or upcoming show or movie.

    If you have doubts, consider the difference in the monologue and the guests during the Writers Strike and afterwards….

  • dgz

    @Ted B.: okay, that’s complete and utter bullshit. do i think jay’s a homophobe? no. but to suggest he’s some trained monkey that is forced to spout whatever jokes they write for him? give me a break. he’s the boss, he could fire all those writers at a whim, and he’s hardly chained to the teleprompter. i’m sorry, i’m not usually this rude, but this is just ridiculous.

  • RomanHans

    A couple years ago, Jeff Whitty — playwright and author of “Avenue Q” — wrote Jay a very public letter confronting him about his homophobia. Leno immediately changed. He stopped the insulting comments and portrayals and came out vocally pro-gay and even pro-gay marriage. Yes, he still makes jokes that touch upon homosexuality, but never at our expense, and with his repeated affirmations of support for our community he’s well earned the right.

  • HayYall

    He seems like a nice guy and a hard worker, but I’ve just never found him funny.

  • Dennis

    Jay Leno is not a homophobe…his jokes are occasionally lame, or pedestrian…whatever….but he is not a gay hater. He plays to a mainstream, middle-class straight audience, and in his way, he has been a voice for tolerance and inclusion on the show many times.

    If you can’t take his somewhat lame attempts at humor, just grow a friggin’ pair, alright?! Jeez…

  • michael

    Actually I think Jay’s gay jokes say a lot more about him than it does about us. I think Jay might spend a lot more time thinking about shirtless Billy Bob from Wyoming than he would like to admit. The way he treated Ryan felt like the way some creepy old closet case comes on to a younger guy, covertly seductive, full of innuendo and manipulation that feels icky & gross.

  • Tony

    Obama. Leno. Old. Tired. Douchebags. Nuff’ said.

  • ...

    nice video from 2006

  • Andrew

    This is interesting. And, I like that you frame it in a sense that his humor is at the expense of gay people. My partner and I recently started watching Craig Ferguson’s show and we’ve been taken aback at just how much “gay humor”, for a lack of a phrase, he uses. But it seems he’s not doing it at our expense — i.e., not objectifying gays and lesbians. If you watch the clip of Leno with Ryan Phillipe (sp?), you can see Phillipe is actually pissed off. Leno looks like the drunken kid at the high school party who desperately wants the football star (here, Phillipe) to fuck him, so he just keeps loudly joking about “gay stuff.” Leno’s probably afraid to touch his asshole while masturbating for fear he might like it too much…

  • Pats

    #12 & #15, have to agree with you. It was obvious in the entire interview that Leno either hates Phillippe or something else. The whole thing was uncomfortable, not just the, “give us your best gay look” thing. So after Leno gets publically condemned for this, he give a very lame apology claiming it was all in fun and RP is a friend (no corresponding remark from RP’s camp.) Then he appears at some gay supportive gatherings. This man is
    P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C. He needs to go away.

  • MTiffany

    “But how come other late night comedians manage to include our kind in their punchlines in a way that even we start laughing?”
    Because the other comedians are actually funny.

  • Chuck

    I literally haven’t watched since Johnny went off. Jay Leno is the Biggest Douche in the Universe. Letterman is way funnier and even if Jay said exactly the same Letterman jokes, he still wouldn’t be funny.

    They’ve been teasing about him leaving for SOOO long now as if it means something.

    Jay is singularly responsible for the dumbing down, bland, boring, tool America.

    Good riddance !

  • rick

    i have not seen the tonight show in 17 years. didn’t even watch the night obama was on. last show i watched was johnnys last night.

  • rick

    @Chuck: lone that dave!

  • rick

    @rick: damn that should read love that dave.

  • alan brickman

    I’m more surprised ryan hadn’t done his research into his gay character…plus he has no sense of humour is obvious…

  • alan brickman

    he makes fun of everyone and that is an equality…lick it up already!!..

  • david

    Chuck, Letterman is an even bigger douchbag with similarly unfunny jokes. And his flirtation with every female guest is repulsively tired.

  • Chuck

    @david: at least he’s being real. My fav late night host is Jimmy Kimmel though.

  • Inukumaru

    This gay novel has pretty extreme views about religion and being gay all done in a sci-fi style sory, the writer was even almost killed when this book was first published. After being banned in his own country it is now available.
    check the plot – As predicted by Isaac Newton the second coming happened and as the world waited to see what was about to happen an appointed man was sent to meet God, hours later God had vanished and the man came out immortal; no apocalypse, no destruction and no salvation. This gave birth to a chain of holy wars that almost chattered Earth’s civilizations and so giving birth to a mass colonization of planets to ensure peace by separation. Thousands of years later all was at peace by until Endings were born; humans connected to their planets in such a way that they are capable of destroying them should they wish it. Now Earth’s Ending has been born and the day to pass judgment draws near.
    it can be found here–a-song-for-the-end-/7182389

    Apart from that it is very hard to find

  • mike

    Exactly correct to the poster who said that Jay Leno sometimes makes jokes at our expense. It’s a prejudicial form of humor in which the word “gay” is used in a negative or perjorative way. If you put “ewwwww” in place of the word “gay”, that’s what some comedians mean to convey.

  • mb00

    It must seriously be a slow day at Queerty if we’re still harping over this issue.
    I don’t think Leno is a homophobe in the least, I don’t think he’s very funny either, but I certainly don’t believe he’s homophobic. He’s been very open about his support of gay families and same-sex marriage.
    Yeah, he’s joke was really tacky, unfunny at best. But I don’t think he’s out there bashing gays any chance he can. And as for the Brokeback jokes, what comedian didn’t make them? Go on to youtube and you can fill your day just watching parodies.

    It’s like Queerty is trying turn our friends into our foes.

    Get over it.

  • mb00

    @Dennis: T-H-A-N-K-Y-O-U!!!! That’s exactly how I feel.

  • Colin

    I remember a few years ago Julianne Moore was on The Tonight Show (maybe promoting The Hours) and she was talking about her son. She mentioned how he liked watching her get ready for the award shows/ her picking out her gown and Jay made a comment like better keep an eye on him (like he’d be gay because of the gowns). It was little things like that that always has bothered me about Jay Leno. He goes for the gay joke when he has nothing else to say – it’s easy for him. I just don’t find him funny, and think that the gays are just an easy joke for him to make

    just my thoughts

  • Tom

    Your last show is excellent Jay.

  • Magnetic Cash Gifting

    I’ll miss Jay but feel that the show is going into very capable hands. Conan has a different but just as funny style.

  • Queerky

    1) No comedian hits the mark every time with everyone. There are bound to be jokes that are duds.
    2) It is sign of self-assurance when a person can laugh at himself or community. Clearly many gays have not yet arrived there.
    3) Sometimes, the so-called anti-gay jokes are really poking fun at gay stereotypes rather than at gays. Some people thought Borat was anti-semitic in his movie when really he was a jewish man poking fun at people’s anti-semitism.
    4) Kevin Eubanks is still single just like Ryan Seacrest is. Jay is poking fun at Kevin not at gays, just as Simon pokes fun at Ryan not gays.

  • yeson8won

    Yet again homosexuals want to try and make themselves an elitist group and not be the subject of jokes.

    Leno also jokes about women, men, NBC, politicians, The Queen, Octomum and hundreds of other groups.

    Homosexuals need to get over themselves. They offer a humourous stereotype and we all need to laugh.

  • Master Adrian


    What if Leno made jokes about black people?
    What if he did make jokes about jews?

    Would you still say that those should get over themselves, and that they are a humourous stereotype, and all need to laugh?

    I bet not, as then the whole nation, you no doubt included, would be up in all arms, as that would be considered to be racist, segregation in the most sick and foul way and manner……

    Segregation is racism, and so is inequality, and therefore:


  • hephaestion

    If NBC had any balls at all they’d replace Leno with Graham Norton. His show in Britain is 500 times more fresh and clever than Leno’s best night.

    Leno needs to retire to someplace like Tuscumbia, Alabama, where there might still be a few people who still find him mildly amusing.

    Anti-gay jokes are no more acceptable than anti-black jokes.

    Has Leno ever made a joke ridiculing straight men?

  • damon459

    I’ve been reading the “news” on this site for a couple months now I’ve come to wonder if all big city “fags” are just a bunch of baby’s with nothing better to do with their time then bitch an moan about nothing this like most stories on here aren’t even worthy of the National Enquirer why not try posting I don’t know real news for a change?

  • yeson8won

    @Master Adrian: Leno DOES make jokes about blacks and Jews!

    Lighten up. Homosexuals are humourous by nature and should not be afraid of laughing at themselves or being laughed at.

    Learn to be secure about yourselves – isn’t that a favourite GBLT tag line??

  • Master Adrian


    And because he makes jokes about jews and blacks (why btw typing a capital in the case of jews and in the case of blacks?) it is allright?

    What would leno say when someone would make a joke about his stupid face? Too big to consider it to be normal, too stupid for being human……
    Would he laugh? Would he be offended? I guess he would!

    Who said that homosexuals are humourous by nature? Some biased idiot?

    And I assure you that homosexuals aren’t afraid to laugh about themselves, as blacks are not afraid to refer to themselves as blacks instead to the PCterm African Americans….

    And.. I don’t need a YesOnProp8 to tell me to be secure about myself, self-esteem I’ve got enough, perhaps the leno’s and the YesOnProp8-individuals of this world should learn to build on their own self-esteem, with their fears of loosing grounds when equal marriage rights are demanded!

    Lighten up about inequality, racism has been going far too long already!

  • Pats

    When something is humorous, we laugh. That is different than taking advantage of people’s stereotypical thinking and prejudices to make fun of a group of people. Leno’s humor is completely dated and his time at the Tonight Show has been its lowest point.

  • bobito

    Homophobe or not (I don’t know him personally, couldn’t say & don’t really care) – nevertheless, a large portion of his ‘humour’ is based on homosexual panic. I remember, back when I watched his wretched show, that he had quite a few jokes about how prostate exams, the implication being that any man who didn’t think having a finger stuck up his bum was the most horrifying ordeal a man could ever go through had to be gay. So yeah, @Andrew: you are probably right.

  • Jai

    @ yeson8won – You can laugh at gays all you want. It really doesn’t equal to the amount of everyone else (with a brain) laughing at you, bitch. It’s over-sensitive little twats like you who truly hate being the butt of jokes and have no sense of humor whatsoever.

  • christophe

    @Master Adrian: “STOP” feeding the troll, maybe then he will go away!

  • Julius Seizure

    Does anyone really watch television any longer?

    OK, Ma and Pa Housecoat tuck into bed early for his monologue – which they each hope will keep the other from expecting dry, emotionless, unfulfilling sex.

    But what about the rest of us? Do you really have time for this sort of retro entertainment?

  • yeson8won

    @Jai: It really doesn’t equal to the amount of everyone else (with a brain) laughing at you, bitch. It’s over-sensitive little twats like you who truly hate being the butt of jokes and have no sense of humor whatsoever.

    Jai thanks for your intolerant, hateful, bigoted heterophobic comments – you are helping to prove my point about the hypocrisy of homosexuals.

  • yeson8won

    @Master Adrian: What would leno say when someone would make a joke about his stupid face? Too big to consider it to be normal, too stupid for being human……
    Would he laugh?


    Leno often makes jokes against himself, as do most comedians. Bill Crystal did a whole piece ripping Leno on his last night.

    It’s only you hypersensitive homosexuals who want to have even more special privileges to support your delusional ‘life-in-a-bubble’.

  • Pats

    @yeson8won: Thanks for proving my point about stereotypical thinking. Homosexuals are not a homogeneous group. There’s short tempered people and easy going people. There’s angry people and go along people. There’s tolerant people and intolerant people. There’s loving people and hateful people. There are funny people and funny looking people, there are serious and beautiful people. And of course, there are people who have been pushed too far.

  • yeson8won

    @Pats: Is that also true for heterosexuals Pats? And opponents of homosexual marriage?

    If so why do your comrades always refer to them as ‘homophobes’ and ‘bigots’?

    Surely they aren’t resorting to stereotyping or believing that heterosexuals are homogeneous?

  • Pats

    @yeson8won: I’ll tell you how heterogeneous heterosexuals are…I’m one. Not gay. Not bi. Just your garden variety Catholic school girl married with three kids hetero. We get labeled homophobes when we live their lives as if a gay man or woman is going to jump out at us and “turn us gay.” We are labeled bigots when we judge people purely on their orientation and not on their abilities, talents, and intelligence denying them their full rights as we hide behind religion to justify our biases.

  • yeson8won

    @Pats: We are labeled bigots when we judge people purely on their orientation and not on their abilities, talents, and intelligence denying them their full rights as we hide behind religion to justify our biases.

    Is that true of the way we judge pedophiles too?

    In the context of their sexuality I believe we have a right to judge homosexuals as deviant/abnormal/perverse – choose your own word.

    However I agree homosexuals can be talented in all kinds of other non-sexual ways.

    My point was that homosexuals frequently stereotype and condemn normal people for being breeders, Christians, homophobes, bigots etc when these people have all sorts of other abilities and talents too.

    Perhaps they are hiding behind their abnormal sexuality to justify their bias? Just a thought.

  • Catherine

    To be honest, I don’t care. Sure, plenty of comedians are funnier when it comes to gay humour, but I think some of you are being a bit too sensitive. Like YesOn8Won has been saying, we do need to laugh at ourselves. It’s not an easy thing to do for many, I know. We don’t like being made fun of. But really, is this what we want to focus our time on?

    Maybe I’m the one who’s wrong. Maybe what some comedian says on his late-night talk show, trying to get a laugh, matters. Or maybe it doesn’t. You tell me.

  • Pats

    @yeson8won: Don’t bring pedophiles into this. Statistics show that most pedophiles are heterosexual.

    As for deviant sexual behavior, how is it that homosexuals have a wrap on that? I don’t think of homosexuals necessarily as deviants anyway. Some might be…just like some straight people might be.

    Maybe I need your imagination to get the proper picture in my head. But as my good friend Stephen used to say, “I don’t waste a minute of my time imagining what you’re doing in your bedroom. Why do some people seem obsessed with what I’m doing?”

    @Catherine:Yes, it’s a good idea to be able to laugh at yourself. But sometimes humor does alot of harm to an insecure floundering young person just trying to understand who they are.

  • yeson8won

    @Pats: Statistics show that most pedophiles are heterosexual.

    Spare us the semantics.

    Male pedophiles who molest boys are homosexuals by definition.

  • Pats

    @yeson8won: To call child molestation of a boy by a man “homosexual” or of a girl by a man “heterosexual” is to misunderstand pedophilia. No true pedophile is attracted to adults, so neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality applies. Interestingly, Anna C. Salter writes, in “Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists and other Sex Offenders”, that when a man molests little girls, we call him a “pedophile” and not a “heterosexual.” Of course, when a man molests little boys, people say outright, or mutter under their breath, “homosexual. Herek writes that because of our society’s aversion to male homosexuality, and the attempts made by some to represent gay men as a danger to “family values,” many in our society immediately think of male-male molestation as homosexuality.

    I’m done.

  • galefan2004

    The problem with gay people (I include myself in this) is that we are so busy being defensive we can’t see a good joke. Those jokes were funny. There was nothing wrong with them. Did they piss off some overly defensive people? Sure! Do we all do that every day anyways? Yes! Calling Hillary a bull dyke (when lets face it the biggest reason she couldn’t get the male vote is she couldn’t attract a man) was not completely unwarranted. Making fun at the expense of the traditional gay stereotype isn’t beyond scope either. We need to, as AMERICANS (not gays, not blacks, not Hispanics, not women, not Asians, not *insert other minority here*) get over ourselves and start looking at INTENT instead of just words when we start jumping on our bandwagons.

  • Catherine

    Understood. But the way I see it, being overly defensive about it may turn people away from us as well – it seems a tad petty to me. But that’s just my two cents.

  • Jhon

    This is a NON-STORY! COME ON!!!!!

  • Jhon

    @yeson8won: Thanks for showing us what stupid looks like.

  • TANK

    This is the saddest thing to happen to late night since its inception. Vrroom vrroom, party starter.

Comments are closed.