Twenty years ago or more I remember seeing Jay Leno being interviewed about his ascent into big time show business. He told a story that still makes me laugh to this day and all I've been able to do is remember the sketchy details in the vast cavernous wasteland that is my brain. However, I decided to do a Google search for "jay leno on dinah shore" today and managed to find the actual story. As it turns out, he included this in his book Leading With My Chin. Enjoy...
Jay Leno once found himself booked on Dinah Shore's syndicated daytime talk show: "I went in and met with the talent coordinator, who said, 'Okay, what's your last joke, so the band knows when to play you off.' ... I said to the talent coordinator, 'Listen, do I have to give my last line?' 'Well, how's the bandleader going to know when you're done?' I said, 'Well, I like to hear the laugh. How about if I just say, "Thank you, thank you very much!" Twice, okay? And that'll be the cue.'
"He agreed to this and went to tell the guys in the band. During the show, I waited backstage for my introduction from Dinah Shore. Finally, I heard her say, 'Now we're going to bring out a very funny young man from Boston. He's got a unique brand of comedy. Please welcome, Mr. lay Leno! Come out here, Jay!' Because Dinah was such a warm presence, she tended to infect audiences with her own enthusiasm. And this audience took her lead and responded with a long, wonderful round of applause. It was almost unnatural. They even went, 'Wooooo! Wooooo!'
"I walked out, surprised and feeling like hot stuff. I started with: 'I'm from the United States! Are there any United States people here?' This got a huge ovation - much more so than such a lame joke deserved. So I said, 'Oh! Thank you! Thank you very much!' At which point, the bandleader looked up in a panic, threw down his magazine, stubbed out his cigarette - and started playing me off!
"'BAAAA DAAAAH! BAAAAAM PAHHHH! BAAA BAAAHH! DAAAAAH! DAHHHHHN TAAAAAA!' And I stood there, stunned.
"Meanwhile, Dinah, who had been reading through her notes, looked up, smiled broadly, and started applauding. Which started the audience applauding wildly! Now she was waving me over to her: 'Come on over here, Jay! Come on over here!' So I shrugged and walked over to her couch. Still beaming, she said, 'Sit right down! That's some of the freshest material I've heard in a long time!' Was anybody paying attention here? So I just sat down and said, 'Well, thank you very much! At this rate, I could do this show eighty, ninety times a year!'"