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Jay Leno: Late Night Comedy's Regular Joe

By Natori Moore

Unlike many celebrities, who become famous because they have standout quirks that propel them into the limelight, Tonight Show host Jay Leno is a regular guy.  That’s the impression he likes to give us every weeknight on television, and that’s pretty much the way it is.  Sure, he’s rich and famous, and he has a knack for being funny that has taken him far, but Jay’s not a here today-gone tomorrow kind of fellow.  He’s got plenty of staying power, and despite his luxury lifestyle, simple pleasures are often his favorites.

JAY'S CHART.  Jay’s Sun is in the steady and comfort-loving sign of Taurus, and he displays the generally easy-going nature and ability to accumulate material goods characteristic of this earthy sign.  Yet the public is more likely to notice Jay’s open friendliness, quirky hair and jaw line (Aquarius rising), along with his sleepy-sexy eyes and natural charm (First House Venus and Jupiter in Pisces).  Like most people with Venus in the First House, Jay is well liked and sociable.  Add benevolent Jupiter, and Jay becomes both court jester and king in his environment, displaying a lively yet powerful presence. 


But, yes, Jay’s arms ARE tired, as the old joke goes.  As a stand-up comic starting out in the 1970s, Jay developed a reputation for being the hardest working person around.  He performed on the road 300 out of 365 days a year in his early comedy career.  His hard-working nature is represented by his full Seventh House, which contains Mars, the Moon and Saturn in workaholic Virgo.  Virgo Moon people like Jay often meet their emotional needs through keeping busy and completing tasks.  They have an earnest desire to serve people in practical ways.  Yet they also tend to worry, and accumulate a great deal of nervous tension. 


Jay’s favorite way to release this nervous tension is by riding motorcycles.  Jay has said he and his wife never wanted children, and they have none.  However, he has a huge collection of classic cars and motorcycles, which could be considered his mechanical kids.  Uranus positioned in his Fifth House of children, recreation and play symbolizes his love of machines.  He may not have been a good parent due to a tendency to neglect his children or give them too much freedom.  Luckily, Jay has had the foresight to recognize this.


Jay Leno’s nightly comic performance on television reflects a large part of his genuine nature.  However, his complex Seventh House of partnerships reveals a few of his shadows.  With the sensitive Moon penned in between Saturn and Mars, Jay may be unaware how he creates blocks to effective partnerships.  He may be stubborn, sensitive, defensive or aggressive because he doesn’t like things to change much.  He might have a “do it to them before they do it to you” mentality.  He is also likely to be cruel or cutting at times, which we see occasionally in his monologue (especially when he’s been one-upped by his sidekick, Kevin Eubanks), but which more likely comes out in off-screen one-to-one encounters.  He’s apparently been able to tame the critical monster, though, since he’s been happily married to Mavis Leno for 21 years. 

Jay may also let the partners in his life display anger or authority – doing his “dirty work” for him -- while he becomes free to play the clown or the innocent.  Witness how his manager, Helen Kushnick, took most of the flack for conflicts with David Letterman in the fight for the Tonight Show crown.  After Jay had become the new host, she had a reputation for being ruthless in booking guests before Letterman or others could do the same.  One wonders how much of this dogged determination to get the best, no matter what it cost him in relationships, really belonged to Jay.


Not long after he took over the Tonight Show, Jay Leno had the show’s stage redesigned to be closer to the audience like the intimate comedy clubs he favored on the road.  With this familiar stage design supporting him, Jay loves performing his comedy routine night after night to the public.  Jay was likely chosen to carry on the Tonight Show tradition because, like a favorite old easy chair, he’s soothing and comfortable to an established audience.  With his jagged chin and spiky hair, he’s weird enough to seem progressive, and he’s clever at delivering a joke.  But he’s also got the engaging charm and the staying power to uphold the traditions of a show that’s lasted nearly 50 years.  Being a “regular Joe” in glittery Hollywood may be one of Jay Leno’s biggest achievements.


Jay Leno
April 28, 1950
2:03 a.m.
New Rochelle, New York
Source:  From memory (A).  Lois Rodden quotes a private and trusted source (name held in file)

© 2001 by Natori Moore
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