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Leno taping smooth, self-written jokes "corny"

January 2, 2008 |  7:15 pm


Audience members exiting from "The Tonight Show" Wednesday night said the performance ran smoothly, with Leno appearing to tap into his stand-up background for his opening monologue.

"Leno_lagasse He can take any situation and make it funny," said Rick Narowski, 60, a retired chief information officer visiting from Connecticut. He said transitions between jokes appeared a bit slower than usual, but added that he had enjoyed the program.

"The jokes were a little more corny this time, and it was more based on personal situations," said Ira Krefting, 59, who was visiting from Washington, D.C. Krefting said he thought Leno was 90% as funny as he usual, but doubted that he could keep it up without his writers. "He got away with it today, but how many more days can he keep being corny and funny?"

Audience members said Leno repeatedly expressed support for the writers on strike during his performance and made it clear that, as a member of the striking Writers Guild of America, he was not breaking any guild rules.

He told the audience he thought up all the jokes himself and tested them on his wife. "I think he was trying to balance between his position as an NBC host and a member of the guild," Narowski said.

"He seemed a little upset that the writers' demands weren't being met," said Alisa Biedess, 27, who works in human resources.

Several people attending the program said Leno's guest, Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, didn't mention the strike at all, but was very funny in his own right. Other guests on the show included rap star Chingy and celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, Grand Marshal of the New Year's Day Rose Parade.

-- Victoria Kim

Photo: Paul Drinkwater / NBC Universal