For more than 20 years, comic Jay Leno was the last person many Americans saw on TV before they went to bed.
During that period, Leno was host of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” the late-night institution that made Johnny Carson a household name.
Leno replaced Carson in 1992, and he remained the show’s host until 2014, except for the one year Conan O’Brien hosted from 2009-2010.
Today, Leno continues to do his standup comedy and plays more the 200 shows a year. Leno returns to Biloxi with an 8 p.m. Friday show at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Tickets start at $60 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.
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Leno has been synonymous with standup comedy since the late 1970s. In an interview with the Sun Herald, Leno said that he still loves to get out there and “tell a few jokes.”
“I still do Sunday nights at the Comely and Magic Club in LA, it’s a gig I’ve been doing since 1978,” Leno said. “When I’m on tour, I do an hour and 20 minutes, so the comedy club is how I work up new material.”
In 1977, Leno made his first appearance on “The Tonight Show,” which he ended up hosting in 1992. He said he doesn’t necessarily miss the hustle and bustle of taping a daily TV show.
I do (Jimmy Fallon’s) show all of the time,” Leno said. “Jimmy is great, he’s actually more like Johnny Carson than any of us — he’s a perfect mimic and he’s doing a great job with the show.
Jay Leno on current “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon
“I loved it while I was doing it but I did it for 22 years, but at some point you just have to walk away and let someone else do it,” he said. “I’m 67 years old now — I shouldn’t have to know all of the Jay-Z songs.”
Leno handed the reigns of the show over to Jimmy Fallon in 2014. Fallon had replaced Conan O’Brien in the 11:30 slot after “The Tonight Show.” Fallon then moved the longtime LA-based show to New York.
“I do Jimmy’s show all of the time,” Leno said. “Jimmy is great, he’s actually more like Johnny Carson than any of us — he’s a perfect mimic and he’s doing a great job with the show.”
When he’s not doing his standup, Leno is immersed in his other passion — cars. The host of “Jay Leno’s Garage” said he is fond of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, especially during the annual Cruisin’ The Coast.
“Cruisin’ The Coast is great, there were like 5,000 cars there,” Leno said. “I was there last year but I didn’t get to get too into it because it was just so much, but I love to get out and talk to people about cars.”
If you go
Beau Rivage Resort & Casino at 875 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi
8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15
Tickets start at $60 and are available at Ticketmaster.com.