Jobless Jay Leno – a story for Good Friday

6 04 2012



Jobless Jay Leno


Jay Leno is hilarious by every standard. The most important standard is that he doesn’t have to use antics and stupid little gimmicks like bringing monkeys on stage or bringing his camera crew outside to tape interviews on the sidewalks of New York. This is the main reason Jay is clearly funnier than Mr. Letterman. As laugh-worthy as David is, his antics reveal a lack of confidence in his pure joke-telling ability. Or maybe his script writers are just tired.

But today, even Jay Leno is out of work. When he went into the office at noon he was glum but still confident he could pull off the show using either skill or fakery. But Jay found the lights off and only a somber janitor dusting the floor like an automaton.

“What’s going on? Am I early?” blurted Leno. “Where is everybody?”

The janitor replied, “This is serious.”

“I can see it’s serious,” agreed the comedian, “but the show must go on.”

“Why?” queried the janitor as he perched his hands on the chin-high handle of his duster.

“Because people will be coming to the studio this evening and I need to be ready to be funny.”

“Not today Mr. Letterman.”

“I’m not David Letterman! Can’t you even get my name right?” Jay retorted with a slight sneer.


Now let us analize why Jay Leno is out of a job by consulting the yet-to-be-published “Idiot’s Guide to Cracking a Sublime Joke.”  In chapter 3, beguilingly entitled “The Philosophical Underpinnings of Humor,” we learn that laughter, right alongside love-making, can only exist in a rather complex convergence of realities. Since, coincidentally, Jay’s new janitor friend had been enjoying this chapter as his bedtime reading, its salient points emerged in their conversation in dimly-lit Studio D.


“Sorry, Mr. Leno,” replied the janitor as he steered his duster around the espresso bar. “There are basically two kinds of laughter, sane and insane.”

“Of course.”

“The laughter of the insane person is meaningless because there is no cognitive trigger, no mental awareness that something funny, something pleasureful was just uttered or, in Mr. Letterman’s case, performed.”

“Uh,” stammered the star, “but people often say I’m insanely funny.”

“That, technically speaking, is not a compliment, Jay…may I call you Jay?”

“By all means…and you are?….”


“So Bud…”

“The only other kind of laughter is sane laughter,” Bud continued. “The laughter of the sane human being is rather complex but I’ll break it down for you…”

“I’m an educated man, Bud. I’ve dusted off a few books in my time, get it?”

“Whenever someone laughs at one of your jokes, he possesses an awareness of the sadness and angst of mankind’s plight. He laughs as a momentary protest against his burdensome reality.”

“Yeah,” interjected Leno, “I often think of the humanitarian contribution I’m making with my comedic talent.”

“I’m sure you do, Jay,” seeking to keep the comedian engaged. “There’s another factor that enters in. For someone to laugh he must desire and believe in the possibility of temporary mental and emotional relief from the burden of the world’s sadness.”

“Laughter’s the best medicine.”

“Right, Jay. Good line.” Bud reloaded. “I’m not going to go into the fact that the would-be-laugher must know the language, idioms, tone of voice, and humorous intention of the comedian.”

“He has to get it,” Jay summarized.

“Got it.”

“But what if the joke in unintentional?” Leno is on to something.

“All the better,” Bud confirmed as he perched a Marlboro loosely between his lips for a smokeless break. “Observing an unintended joke relieves the pain in our personal world because we can favorably compare ourselves to the bigger problem of the poor guy who is funny without wanting to be.”

“Man, am I glad I came in today. This is so enlightening.”

“No, it isn’t, Jay, because this is all theoretical now.”

“I don’t get it.” Confessed the former comedian.

“I know, Mr. Leno. Nobody does. Which illustrates the final factor that must exist for there to be humor.”

“I’m listening.”

Glancing around, Bud broke code and lit up. “We don’t bother to laugh at a joke unless we subconsciously think there is a glimmer of hope for a better future. Our inner self intuitively judges whether or not humor is appropriate and worth the effort.”

“What?” Jay was in the dark.

“In layman’s terms, laughter is a tiny burst of hopefulness. But if we don’t think things can possibly get better for us, we won’t find anything funny.”

“You’re wrong on that point, Bud. I know people who get so drunk they’ll laugh at anything, even my lousy joke about the hot-dog-eating-contest that I don’t even think is funny.”

“Drunks have temporarily joined the ranks of the insane. They’re not engaged in the meaning of the humor, and won’t remember it. So that isn’t really humor, only meaningless laughter.”

Jay Leno stood up and dug his hands into his pockets. He couldn’t think of anything to say.

Bud the janitor broke the silence, “So you see, that’s why nobody came into work today.”

“Real humor is dead.” Leno spoke matter-of-factly as he headed toward the exit. He paused thoughtfully, “Why did you come in, Bud?”

“I was needed as a character in this chapter.”

“That’s pretty good, Bud.” Jay Leno pushed the door open to the outside. “Pretty good yesterday.”