Leno Comes to the University of Illinois Springfield


Photograph courtesy of Giang Nguyen

Former “The Tonight Show” host and well-known comedian, Jay Leno, came to UIS on Sunday, Sept. 16, to perform his stand-up comedy routine in Sangamon Auditorium on campus.

   Leno, best known for his 22-year stint as host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, began his show with a few one-liners before dropping quickly into a series on the #MeToo movement, taking aim at various well-known figures the movement has brought down, such as Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, and Harvey Weinstein.  This led into a brief set on a very common topic for modern comedians: President Donald Trump’s administration. 

    However, Leno was quick to move back to more apolitical observations on American life such as the price of iPhones, binge-watching, competitive eating, the New England Patriot’s football team, his parents, and Americans’ refusal to accept soccer as a major sport.

    Leno spent the rest of his routine bouncing from topic to topic, pivoting from one joke to another with the skill of an expert in his craft.

   In accordance with his conventional style, Leno was bipartisan with his quips, hitting Hilary Clinton for her memoir, What Happened? detailing her 2016 run, her husband and former president, Bill Clinton for his sexual scandals, and the opponent Hilary Clinton defeated in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders for his age.

    In a recent interview with the Frederick News-Post, Leno described his comedy during his time hosting “The Tonight” Show as “you do jokes about both sides and people couldn’t figure out your politics. People could watch a joke and each walks away with their own interpretation of it.”

   Despite performing on a college campus, Leno even took a swipe at college students, reiterating a point he made in 2015 during an interview with Seth Meyers, saying: “College kids now are so politically correct,” and recounting a story about an intern saying he was racist for not liking Mexican food, to which he claims to have responded, “Being anti-guacamole is not racist, okay?” and “there’s a difference between racism and politically correct.”

   After wrapping up his routine with a few “jokes you can take with you,” Leno remained on stage to be joined by a number of VIPs, including UIS Chancellor Susan Koch.

   In celebration of the rebranding of Sangamon Auditorium to the University of Illinois Performing Arts Center, Leno proceeded to throw a switch, in the process breaking it, turning on the spotlights on the roof.