Co-Blogging Series – Anand C and Lazy Geek
LAUGHTER, THE BEST MEDICNE (Nightly Dose)
If you think the conventional take on everyday events is mundane and monotonous, you’ll enjoy these recent quips on George W, on a 45-second stretch in the Tonight Show (NBC, weeknights, 11:35 P.M):
The man behind the humor – Jay Leno – is probably the best known stand-up comedian today and host of “The Tonight Show”. Jokes are oxygen to Leno. It is his peculiar talent to pick over jokes, news items, and tidbits of information – he gets about 200 to 300 submissions a day – select the funniest of the crop, and fashion them into an 11-minute monologue that will persuade millions to stay up later than they probably should for a humorous take on the events of the day… few perspectives on his life and work (Source: FORTUNE Magazine):
He began, awkwardly, using Johnny Carson’s set (the person he replaced as host), which had been designed to keep Johnny some distance away from the audience. Only after NBC built Leno a new 350 – seat studio – where he works closer to the band and to the crowd, as if in a comedy club – did he get comfortable. The microphone on the host’s desk is one of the few remnants of the old set, although it hasn’t been turned on for years.
‘How to win friends and influence people’
He is a quirky man – hot liquids never touch his lips, and he eats the same thing for lunch every day for a year. He acts as his own agent. In an industry where stars often demand to be indulged, he is an affable team player. Above all, he is a relentless salesman. “Show business is not hard,” he says. “It’s all just basic Dale Carnegie stuff.”
One reason he does not use an agent anymore is that he doesn’t want anyone to speak for him and possibly offend a client or fan. “That’s really what this business is about,” he says. “Contact with the customers. Because it’s really feast or famine. You meet a guy on the elevator and you say hello. Well, for the rest of your career, you are the greatest guy in the world. But if you go, ‘Excuse me, I’m busy,’ you are just an asshole. Lyndon Johnson used to say that every handshake is worth 250 votes, and it’s really true, especially in television.”
Performing before live audiences tells him whether he’s still connecting with the public. “You go out on the road, and they laugh or they boo,” he says. “If I go to Vegas, and there are 1,800 seats and all of them are sold, then I’m doing something right on The Tonight Show. That’s my barometer.”
He has not slowed down. “This sounds silly,” he says, “but my attitude is, sooner or later, the other guy is going to have to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, get laid, or take a vacation, and that’s when I catch him. That’s always worked for me.” Once, when he was home working on the next day’s monologue, he flipped on the TV and saw a rival talk show host at a Lakers game. “Gotcha,” he thought. “I’m working. You’re playing. What are you doing? This is a school night.” He won’t go to bed until half the monologue is written. “I don’t go anywhere,” he says. “This is what I do.”
It takes courage to be funny, and to stick by it. To do more, not less of stand up comedy. Monologue of 11 minutes. Probably an interesting way to remind that no matter what happens, life goes on… and there’s always another joke to be told!