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Jay Leno’ Jokes Gym

Still an ace of clubs, Jay Leno punches up his punch lines every Sunday night


A lot of stand-up comics moonlight as waiters, but how many stand-up comics moonlight as…stand-up comics? Jay Leno, for one. In addition to his five nights a week on The Tonight Show, Leno, 48, puts in a sixth night of yuks almost every Sunday—as he has for 20 years—at the Comedy &C Magic Club in laid-back, surfer-friendly Hermosa Beach near L.A. For the TV show and his Las Vegas act, he road-tests jokes that work (“When O.J. saw the ads for A Perfect Murder, he thought it was an infomercial”) and a few that fizzle, for an hour and a half. In the world of two-drink minimums, that’s a marathon.

“I have friends who work out at a gym a few hours a day,” Leno, nibbling on watermelon chunks, told PEOPLE backstage before a recent show. “Well, that’s what I do. This club is my gym. I get to try new jokes, and I do old jokes.” Unlike the big-name Hollywood comedy clubs, Leno says, this one—where the cover is only $22—is stocked with “just regular paying customers.” Toward the end of the show, Leno reads jokes—written by him and his writers—off cards, keeping only the knee-slappers. Throughout the gig the audience of 235 hears little to blush over, which is fine with Leno. “Sometimes at the comedy clubs in Hollywood,” he complains, “you have to be a gynecologist to follow their acts.” Leno’s idea of a joke is the one his wife, Mavis, makes every time he goes to the club. “When I was a kid,” Leno says, “I used to watch The Danny Thomas Show, because he would always say to his wife, ‘Honey, I’m going to meet my agent Sid down at the club.’ So that’s what I always say to my wife. And she’ll say, ‘Say hi to Sid.’ ”

The Price of Fame

Want to have your own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The good news is that anyone can nominate you: Samuel L. Jackson, who was tapped for a star last month (along with such fellow performers as Jamie Lee Curtis, Wesley Snipes, Dennis Franz and the Simpsons), was put forward by his own PR person. But to join the over 2,100 other stars whose good names are trampled daily, you must be okayed by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the Hollywood City Council and the owner of the property that fronts the spot where your star is to be placed. Someone will also need to pony up $10,000 for the cost of the star, its maintenance and the dedication ceremony, which you must attend. That last condition has kept the Beatles off the pavement—a circumstance that led about 10 fans to hold a vigil last month in Hollywood. The rule was bent in 1994, and a star temporarily installed, but Capitol, the Beatles’ U.S. record company, requested the star be removed because it wasn’t in front of their building, according to Walk of Fame committee chairman Johnny Grant. Today the exiled star sits in Grant’s office. “You produce a Beatle,” Grant says, “and I’ll produce a star.” Adds Walk of Fame committee spokesperson Ana Martinez-Holler of the would-be honorees: “They didn’t come together.”

Tickle Me Ginger

Since Ginger Spice left the Spice Girls in May, her doll has become a hot property. “Everyone wants Ginger,” says Stephen Imura, manager of the Cinema Shop in San Francisco, which sells Ginger for $35. “People are speculating that they’ll quit making her, and she will be hard to find.”

Galoob Toys, the Spice Girls dolls’ manufacturer, says it wants to keep Ginger in the lineup—but the ultimate decision lies with Posh, Scary, Sporty and Baby. And if plastic Ginger does get the ax? “I could see her value going to $100,” says Imura. “It’s a seller’s market.”

Hollywood Plays It Pool

The Hustler it wasn’t, but everybody on hand seemed to have a ball, numbered and otherwise, at E! Entertainment Television’s June 23 Rack-N-Roll benefit pool party for AIDS Project Los Angeles. “It’s not about winning tonight,” proclaimed actor Lou Diamond Phillips, who nevertheless turned up with his own custom made pool cue. Other amateur sharks who helped raise $80,000 (participants paid $250 while spectators paid only $40) Included Donny Osmond, Seinfeld’s Patrick (Puddy) Warburton and actress Maria Conchita Alonso. Veronica’s Closet costar Kathy Najimy was a willing spectator but stopped short of chalking up. “If you play,” she said, “you have to get here too early. It’s better to eat shrimp.”

Grudge Report

Just a month after Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman and the Utah Jazz’s Karl Malone made a two-man mosh pit in the NBA finals, they’re taking their wrestling match into an actual ring. In a showdown billed as Rodzilla vs. Mailman, the pair will try to slam-dunk each other into the turnbuckles in San Diego on July 12 for a pay-per-view World Championship Wrestling event that reportedly will net each hoopster more than $1 million. “When I was growing up, there were three things I wanted to do,” says Malone. “I wanted to be a state trooper, fly jets and rassle.” Adds Rodman, who will tag-team with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan against Malone and Diamond Dallas Page: “I like it that guys get to talk trash and act on it. They get to kick ass!”

Hot Property


Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, may soon be able to add “homeowner” to her title. She has her eye on a $2.5 million seven-bedroom 18th-century red-brick mansion, 30 miles southwest of London. The property is just 4 miles from the home of ex-husband Prince Andrew, where, since February 1997, the once-profligate Fergie has lived with their daughters Beatrice, 9, and Eugenie, 8. Now clear of her $7.1 million in debts, Fergie, 38, wants a home close to the girls’ school and to their dad. The Queen is reportedly chipping in one-third of the purchase price for the five-acre property that includes a gym, library and tennis court.

Where Life Is Always A Beach

Of course they’d never give a job like this to a guy, so for seven long, arduous years, casting directors Susie Glicksman and Fern Orenstein have found the bodies—er, actors and actresses—of Bay-watch. They estimate that at least 10,000 would-be bod-squad members have auditioned in their cramped office in Marina del Rey, Calif., hoping to be the next Pamela Anderson or David Charvet, the duo’s first hires. Scoop, ever curious about what makes a good TV lifeguard (is experience with the Royal Shakespeare Company a plus or a minus?), interviewed the forty-something Glicksman and Orenstein, 36, and got these answers.

Which is more important: acting skills or physical talent?

Glicksman: Hey, if someone can put two sentences together and she looks right, I will get her an acting coach immediately. That has happened several times.

Do you ever just turn away someone the second he or she walks in?

Glicksman: No. Everyone gets to read lines.

What if they have a big butt?

Glicksman: We’ll let them read at least a little bit. We’re not that mean.

Do actresses have to audition in swimsuits?

Glicksman: No. But they have to be dressed to show their bodies.

Does a single ounce of cellulite disqualify anyone?

Glicksman: Yeah…

Orenstein: But it’s not even an issue. The girls who come in here are so body-conscious that they are not real. So that never happens.

Have you ever thought of casting an overweight lifeguard just to make heavy people feel better?

Glicksman: We just interviewed a plus-size model who was very sexy and attractive, and we thought it might be a good idea. I’d rather have her rescue me than that tiny little Kelly Packard.

Orenstein: I think it would be a publicity coup. She was a size 16. I asked her if she got depressed about it and she said, “What? I get to eat what I want.” I envy her.

What is the show’s position on breast implants and liposuction?

Glicksman: If it enhances a person’s appearance and there are no scars showing, then what’s wrong with it? This is L.A.

Any advice for Bay-watch-babe wannabes?

Glicksman: Send us a picture.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?

Orenstein: What we have to look at every day. Do you realize how depressing our job is? We have to look at all the gorgeous women that come in here. It’s hard on us. Sometimes we are like, “Oh, my God! Look at the waist on that girl.” It can be depressing.

What celebrities auditioned for you but didn’t make the cut?

Glicksman: We passed on Alicia Silverstone [who denies auditioning], Dean Cain and Neve Campbell.

Why did you nix Neve?

Orenstein: I didn’t think she was right on Baywatch. Plus she is pale. That wouldn’t work.

Would you cast Leo DiCaprio?

Orenstein: He would probably have to go to the gym and get in shape. If he bulked up, he could do it.