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Video: The Jay Leno joke that upset India

February 1, 2012 |  4:00 am

Jay Leno in Hollywood; Jay Leno joke upsets India

Can India take a joke? The country is wrestling with that question after barbs from comedian Jay Leno and the BBC program "Top Gear" rubbed Indians the wrong way, Mark Magnier reports for The Times. Critics say India is overreacting to minor slights, possibly because of its colonial past.

Leno poked fun at wealthy Mitt Romney by showing a picture of a sacred Sikh temple and joking that it was the Republican presidential candidate’s summer home. That spurred a lawsuit against Leno and a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, Magnier reports. See the joke for yourself:

"Top Gear," in turn, cracked jokes about food and sanitation in India. In one scene, Jeremy Clarkson and his colleagues ride through a slum in an aging Jaguar with a toilet fitted into its trunk, riffing on the Indian reputation for "Delhi belly." The Indian Embassy in London called for an apology over this episode:

The U.S. State Department dismissed the alarm over the Leno skit, saying it was protected under American free speech laws, Magnier reports. The BBC said the "Top Gear" jokes were really at the hosts' expense.


India marks a year without recorded cases of polio 

India's biometric ID number plan divided by bureaucracy 

Some in India wonder whether their countrymen can take a joke 

Photo: Jay Leno signs autographs for fans before participating in a ceremony honoring Russell Crowe with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles