Former late-night host Jay Leno said in a recent interview that under the Trump administration, late-night television has become little more than a platform for “depressing” criticism of President Donald Trump.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Leno was asked how he thinks late-night TV has evolved in the Trump era.
“Late-night has always been pretty topical,” the 67-year-old responded. He praised current hosts like Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Trevor Noah and Samantha Bee, but pointed out what he sees as the biggest issue with their comedy routines.
“The only trouble is now everyone has the same topic,” he said. “It’s all depressing Trump stuff.”
Leno went on to lament the “negativity” that seems to surround the late-night scene.
“The trouble is that there’s such negativity now. When I did the show, Bush was dumb and Clinton was horny and it was human problems,” he said. “Now it’s all anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, anti-Salvadoran; it’s such a negative thing.”
Still, he thinks the hosts do a good job of making it “funny,” though that doesn’t take away from the “depressing” aspect of the situation.
Leno indicated that in the past, viewers would watch late-night TV to try and escape from reality.
But, he explained, “now it’s more in your face.”
Despite his bleak outlook on the state of late-night television, the iconic host suggested that things in the world may not be as bad as they seem.
“You laugh but then you go to bed going, ‘Oh man, the world is really pretty rough.’ And it’s not, it’s one man that causes all these problems!” he explained, referring to Trump.
Moreover, the TV host noted what he sees as the “upside” to Trump’s presidency, which he relayed to his wife after Trump was elected.
“This will be the greatest thing that ever happens to the women’s movement,” he recalled telling his wife.
“Because even men who are apathetic are going, ‘Whoa, wait a minute.’ (Disgraced Hollywood producer) Harvey Weinstein was a catalyst, but Trump really started (the groundswell),” Leno said, before talking about the Women’s March as an example of protests taking place against the president.
And despite his criticism of Trump, Leno did admit that “the country is actually OK,” especially with unemployment figures low.
During the interview, Leno was asked if he wished he “had a platform” to take shots at Trump.
“No, I don’t,” Leno responded, citing his age and the fact that late-night TV has “turned into a young person’s game.”
Leno, who hosted “The Tonight Show” until 2014, now hosts “Jay Leno’s Garage,” a car program that airs on CNBC.
He emphasized that he is happy where he is now, and does not desire to be the star of a streaming talk-show program like his former rival — David Letterman.
“Not really. I like what I’m doing,” he said. “To me, I like talking to regular people and seeing what I can draw out of them. I’m sure Dave will be excellent, he always does a good show. He’s such a quirky guy, I’m sure it will be terrific.”
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