Jay Leno might be off The Tonight Show on NBC, but he was served up a heady award at the Kennedy Center on Sunday night. The comedian received the 17th Annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
He was roasted by many of his colleagues — both old and new — in the entertainment industry. From his Tonight Show successor Jimmy Fallon to Chelsea Handler, Seth Meyers, and even his former bandleader, Kevin Eubanks, everyone was happy to get in a jab or two at the funnyman’s expense.
Jamie Foxx might have had the most humorous line of the night by making fun of Leno’s brand of comedy. He said, “Every night for 22 years, I would watch Jay Leno to go to sleep. I nicknamed him Jay Lunesta. Now I’m having withdrawals.”
Handler ribbed the talk-show host about his replacement. “I love you, and if you ever need anything from anyone, call Jimmy Fallon.”
Overall, everyone honored the man who gave many of them their start in the comedy arena.
Leno was appreciative of all of the love in the room, but he also decided to dish it back to some of the comedians who had roasted him. He thanked the former Chelsea Lately host “for taking time off from her time off.”
He also praised his wife of 34 years, Mavis Leno, who has heard all of his jokes. He shared, “Most people get to hear the good jokes — she had to hear all the stupid ones that didn’t work.”
The show, Jay Leno: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, will be broadcast on PBS on Nov. 23. Other past recipients include Bill Cosby, Tina Fey, Carol Burnett, Whoopi Goldberg and Bob Newhart.