Jay Leno concluded his nearly 22 year-run as the host of The Tonight Show yesterday and many are celebrating his reign by remembering their favorite late-night moments (“What the hell were you thinking?!”). One group of researchers chose to take reminiscing a step further. A recent study was released by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University that analyzed nearly 44,000 of Leno’s Tonight Show monologue jokes.
The study tallied 43,892 jokes about public figures and current affairs from his first day behind the desk through January 24, 2014. As much as Fox News likes to complain that late-night comedians were unfair to George W. Bush, Bill Clinton far surpassed the 43rd president as the butt of most of Leno’s jokes! Clinton was the target of 10% of all of his jokes, being ripped on an astonishing 4,607 times! Bush was second with 3,239. Leno hosted the long-running late-night talk show through four presidents: from George H.W. Bush to Barack Obama. Our current President ranked 4th, just behind Clinton’s VP Al Gore.
Celebrities got off pretty easy during the infamous opening monologue. The highest tally for any one non-political personality was 795 jokes aimed at O.J. Simpson (make that 796 after last night).
Jay Leno handed the keys to the show for the second (and hopefully, last) time to comedian Jimmy Fallon who will move the show to New York when it begins broadcast on Feb. 17. Fallon has successfully hosted Late Night following Leno since 2009 when Conan O’Brien left the show to host The Tonight Show (before Leno came back to host a second stretch). Saturday Night Live‘s Seth Meyers will take over Late Night.
Until then, check out the Top 20 Targets of Jay Leno’s political and celebrity jokes!
Top 20 Political Joke Targets
Top 20 Celebrity Joke Target