In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jay Leno says late night talk television has become depressing.
Leno says he watches all the shows, and like the nice guy he’s known to be says all the hosts do a great job. But compared to when he was doing late night, he sees that all the shows have become so focused on one topic, and it’s all negative. He doesn’t blame the shows, or the reality of the current world climate; he blames Trump. Even though he presided over the Tonight Show during the terms of a few controversial heads of state, he says the political climate of those administrations were very different, which resulted in a very different tone to late night talk.
“When I did the show, Bush was dumb and Clinton was horny and it was human problems,” Leno said. “Now it’s all anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, anti-Salvadoran; it’s such a negative thing. God bless all the late-night hosts, they make it funny, but ultimately, it’s depressing.” Late night television he says, was an escape from reality. Now you go to bed realizing the world is such a rough place. “And it’s not, it’s one man that causes all these problems!”
The upside, he said, is that his negativity is creating a groundswell of activism, something Leno calls the silver lining to all of this.
He won’t pick a favorite show- Leno stayed diplomatic complimenting Seth, and both Jimmys, but he says he watches for jokes. “I’m a joke guy; I don’t really watch the celebrity interviews because I’ve interviewed all those people already,” he said, adding “it’s really hard when you have to write basically the same joke every night. I don’t mean that in an insulting way. And they do it, they’re really creative and really funny. It’s not the lazy kind of version of a joke you’ve heard before. People are really writing good stuff and it’s impressive.”
Leno isn’t looking to get back in to the game either. He has no desire to get back in the host seat outside of his show about cars, Jay Leno’s Garage. “I had my platform and I enjoyed it for 22 years,” he said. But he’s content to let a younger generation take over. “At my age, I can’t pretend to know all of Jay-Z’s music. When you’re 40, you talk to the 26-year-old supermodels and it’s sexy; when you’re 67, you’re the creepy old guy. At some point, you need to step back and say, “I did it.”