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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

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    Jay Leno: Right or Left?

    By kyle | September 28, 2009

    The Atlantic Wire is a new service that is a bit like The Week in that it attempts to summarize what left and right are saying about a given topic. They’re doing an excellent job puzzling over the politics of the nation’s reigning President of Comedy Jay Leno at the moment, comparing his interview with Michael Moore (favorable to fawning) with the tough one he did with Rush Limbaugh. Various commentators try to read the Leno leaves to figure out whether he’s liberal or conservative. Liberals seem to assume he’s a Republican solely because he does what all comics did until this decade–make fun of left and right in more or less equal portion. (Though he is a bit more likely to make fun of the left, it seems to me.) John Nolte quipped that Jay could improve his critical reception by removing the American flag pin from his lapel.

    I have always assumed he’s a liberal (come on people, he’s from Boston, he’s in show business, he’s lived in LA for the last few decades) who is canny enough to know that liberal humor often comes across as snarky and elitist. Leno himself backs this up when he talks about playing the road to gauge national sentiment — and to learn that what people love on the coasts falls flat in Indianapolis.

    Topics: Comedy, Politics, TV | 8 Comments »

    8 Responses to “Jay Leno: Right or Left?”

    1. Robert P Says:
      September 28th, 2009 at 11:48 am

      Kyle, who do you side with in the “Late Night Wars”?

      What are your opinions on the comedy of Leno, Conan, Letterman and even Kimmel?

      I’m a long-time Conan fan myself.

      Leno is always too safe and I hate that “I’m-just-a-friendly-everyday-guy-telling-nice-jokes-for-nice-people” routine.

      Letterman and Kimmel never did it for me.

    2. kyle Says:
      September 28th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

      I’ve never watched Kimmel. I think Letterman and his heir have more comedy genius than Leno, but they also have a lot more misses. Leno is a .400 hitter, strictly singles and doubles, but Letterman is more of a Dave Kingman.

    3. Floyd R. Turbo Says:
      September 28th, 2009 at 2:53 pm

      I think Jay Leno is a persuadable Liberal. Given his wife’s work for the women of Afghanistan he has to have a soft spot for GW Bush and the war on Terror not to mention his USO stuff.

      The man also works very hard for his money and personally exhibits thrift and humility (living off his stand-up money banking his NBC money and is reportedly a very generous giver). He is light to Letterman’s dark. I find it odd and a bit disconcerting that since Dave’s near-death and new child he has become more of a dick while Leno seems to get nicer and nicer.

      I bet Leno is a knee-jerk Liberal who if he sat down and thought through his worldview and how it relates to the various issues he’d discover he’s a lot more Conservative than he realizes because the label scares him — especially in the town in which he lives and works.

    4. Floyd R. Turbo Says:
      September 28th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

      and by “thrift” I mean relative to someone who has more money than God.

    5. Pat Says:
      September 28th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

      Having always liked Jay Leno, I think you give him too much credit calling him a .400 hitter. Wouldn’t a more apt comparison be Wade Boggs or Tony Gwynn? If middle-of-the-road humor is the game, the only .400 hitter is Johnny Carson.

    6. Skip Says:
      September 28th, 2009 at 11:05 pm

      ay has said on the Tonite Show that he was a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.

    7. kg in tx Says:
      September 28th, 2009 at 11:19 pm

      Jay has said in the past that he is as liberal as David Letterman, but he doesn’t put it out there as much…i think b/c he’s more of a gentleman than Letterman.

      but he was on bill maher a couple weeks ago, no question where he stands

    8. Morris Says:
      October 4th, 2009 at 12:19 am

      I think Leno is a moderate Democrat who has bought into the hype of man-made global warming.

      Like alot of moderate democrats he probably is PERSONALLY conservative on alot of issues in his personal life.

      For instance, like not cheating on his wife with the stage hands.