Jay Leno on ‘Gayest Look’ Controversy: That’s What Comics Do

Last Friday, Jay Leno spoke with KMXB radio in Las Vegas about the “gayest look” controversy.

LenoHere’s the audio.

I’ve also transcribed it.

Said Leno: “You know, it’s really odd how on our show we have plenty of gay guests and plenty of gay guests who you know – ‘how’s your relationship going, how’s your family going’ — Melissa Etheridge, with everybody else. To me I never made fun of gay rights or even gay marriage. Do what you want to do. But to me — fashion, lifestyle, hair, you know that kind of stuff — you’re a comic. Thats what you do. And what it was was Ryan Phillippe, who grew up in a strict Baptist background, he came to New York as an actor and his first job was playing a single gay teenager or young man. So I said ‘what was that like, coming from a Baptist background?’ And he said ‘well a little tricky with my parents, they didn’t quite get it.’ And then I said ‘ok, so you were a single good-looking guy on a soap opera’ and I made the mistake, I guess, of saying alright, ‘Give me your gayest look now. Give me that soap opera gayest look. Well, apparently ‘gayest look’ offended somebody and, you know. But what happens in these things is it then builds to — I would read the blog, ‘I didn’t see Jay Leno’s anti-gay tirade but I heard he went on and on!’ So it’s one of these things where it just builds and builds and you go look, I’m a comic. If I offended anybody, I’m sorry, this is my job to make a laugh and we’re a live show and maybe you say something that’s inappropriate and I apologized, and it’s as simple as that….(jokes) well I am in rehab now!”


  1. JeffNYC says

    Good. I’m glad it bothers him.

    But why do all public apologies include the odious “If I offended anyone…” phrase, which obviates the apology and puts the fault on the “overly insensitive” offended party.

    The only apology that REALLY makes up for a slight is the apology that ACKNOWLEDGES some wrongdoing. Otherwise, it’s just insincere damage control.

  2. seattle mike says

    So the fact that sometimes he treats gay guests well makes it okay for him to do this “gayest look” thing? Can you imagine if he had said “You know, we have African-American guests on the show occasionally and I treat them well, so it should be okay for me to ask a white guest to put on blackface, eat some watermelon and do a little shuck and jive. As long as some people laugh at it, that’s okay, because that’s what comics do.”

  3. Frank L says

    JeffNYC said it well. The standard operating procedure these days is to mouth the “If I offended anyone I’m sorry” thing along with some variation of the “I know lots of gay people” line (in this case “I have lots of gay guests on my show”). The “gayest look” thing was not Jay Leno’s first time making this type of supposedly offhanded remark, and it’s not even the worst example by a long shot.

  4. virgoboy says

    What an ass… i’m glad to see that he STILL is being bothered about this! We’ve done our job- Well Done, sweeties!

  5. Michael Bedwell says

    Further proof tools like Leno STILL don’t “get it.” He would NEVER say, “Give us your N-word look.” Or “Jew look.”

    But we only have our own community to blame for letting people like him with MILLIONS of fans get away with such crap—for perpetuating the idea that we are nothing more than the punch line to a fag joke. For defending even here on TRoad his making a mockery out of “Brokeback Mountain” and all other things gay he’s heard about. Where is SAAD? Oops, I mean GLAAD? There were created as a PROTEST organization to DEMAND that we be treated fairly by media.

    Nevermind. Now I remember. They sold their balls and their souls for a few pieces of silver to Antigay Industry-funding Coors long ago.

  6. says

    The offense is in the tone – the 12 year-old, you’re queer and must be ridiculed and humiliated tone.

    Obviously he understands that and takes the time hear to put his “apology” into perspective by acknowledging it too was a joke.


  7. rascal says

    Hey Leno – ever hear the phrase, “when you’re in a hole, stop digging”?

    What an idiot.

  8. says

    I don’t think he’s consciously homophobic. I think, unfortunately, Leno represents a certain sophomoric group of the population that thinks gay jokes are actually funny. Maybe they can be, but certainly not when they seek to make fun for someone for being gay, or perceived as gay. So, I really don’t think Leno will ever get any better, but that doesn’t mean he can’t do things that can advance glbt equality – including making sure he brings on a plethora of glbt guests and treats them with respect and normalcy.

  9. Zeke says

    So why did he bother apologizing then?

    I would much rather that he had just said this and showed that he’s an ass who just doesn’t get it than for him to make an insincere apology only to later explain away his apology outright and then, in the same breath, add even more insult to injury.

    I think the thing that I find most shocking about Leno’s latest commentary is his claim that he’s a comedian. I don’t know if there’s a comedian’s union or comdeian’s association but if there is they should really consider suing this man for false advertising.

  10. jomicur says

    If the only way Leno can think of to get a laugh is by tearing down already-oppressed minorities, he’s in the wrong business.

  11. nic says

    Leno will never wise up. the “quality” of such guests as melissa etheridge (apparently she was the only one he could think) who occasionally grace his stage do not in any way make up for the constant cheap shots at gays and the parading around of “the gay intern.”

    i don’t care whether leno is a homophobe or not, though i don’t think he is. what i abhor is the slaziness of his whole so-called comedic approach. his motto seems to be: go for the easy laugh, no matter how lazy or sleazy (hence, slayzy).

    it seems that for a number of years, he and his butt-boy bandleader have been making hay on this kind of derisive humor about gay men. hmmm, could it be that is why he could not think of anyone other than etheredge of the cuff?

    i think that the sputtering and blubbering exhibited by leno in this interview belies the truth of himself. he is no more capable of comming up with an original idea than he is of formulating a coherent sentence, ex tempore.

    his time has passed.

  12. Landon Bryce says

    I think it’s funny that anyone would complain about Leno’s cheap shots at gays and then refer to his “butt-boy bandleader.” I wish gay people would stop making anti-gay jokes, even when they are directed at phobes like Leno.

    I hate Lenoand find him consistently at the cutting edge of American stupidity. I can express this without calling him gay. You can, too!

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  14. nic says

    LANDON BRYCE, you give me so little credit…

    from the “urban dictionary”: butt boy; A servile underling. Especially one who is also a sycophant. A suck up or brown-noser. Synonymous with “toadie” or “stooge.” A butt boy does his master’s dirty work (ex., “The CEO is sending one of his butt boys down to straighten out the mess in accounting.”)

    branford marsalis, i surmise, had little tolerance for leno’s puerile humor, and departed. at least, i hope that is true; branford is, after all, an extremely talented man. leno’s current band-leader not only plays into the sophomoric humor, but he often contributes to it. i did not say that either leno or kevin eubanks is gay. how did you infer that? more important, how did i make an anti-gay joke?

    my message was quite clear. what you take away from it is up to you.

  15. Landon Bryce says


    You could also have looked up “buttboy” on the urban dictionary and found:

    1. Catamite, an adolescent homosexual “mistress.”
    2. A sycophant, yes man, or brown nose.

    But your claim is like Ann Coulter saying “faggot” is just a schoolyard taunt that means “wimp.” “Butt-boy” is perjorative because it means being on a receiving end of anal sex. Where on earth else do you think the term came from?

  16. nic says

    LANDON, so in your mind “cigar butt” and being at the “butt of a joke” are homophopic phrases, i suppose. do your homework, child. i agree with meaning 2: A sycophant, yes man, or brown nose. the definition you prefer, however, came much later. to each his own.