Standup comedy is something that I have always been fascinated by. Laughter can be considered the sound of pure joy, which is probably why we feel relaxed after a belly-busting laugh attack wiping the tears from our eyes; it’s stress being released through chuckles and giggles. The idea of someone willing to get up on a stage to be voluntarily judged by an audience is terrifying, to say the least. Yet, standup comedians choose this difficult lifestyle to make people laugh, to give audience members an escape from their reality, daily life or troubles, and laugh their frown into a smile. My fascination with stand-up comedy and a passion for cars fueled my excitement in anticipation of watching Jay Leno perform at the Majestic Theater this past weekend in San Antonio.
I arrived at the Majestic with ten minutes to spare before the start of the show and walked into a theater lobby packed with people. Ushers being bombarded with guests trying to find their seats, the bar at the back was three people deep with the sound of ice being crushed as bartenders hustled to pour drinks. I was alone, but that meant I could watch in silence and observe the atmosphere. I sat down in my seat and watched the crowd of people arrange themselves into the proper seating order as we waited for the show to start. Looking through the crowd I noticed that I was probably one out of maybe a handful of guests under the age of 25.
That’s when it dawned on me. Jay Leno has been doing comedy since the 1970’s. These people have been fans of Mr. Leno for decades longer than I’ve been alive. I wasn’t simply attending a live standup performance; I was going to witness a living legend, a master of his craft, do what he does best while making it look easy. Suddenly, the lights dimmed and the stage light up. “Ladies and Gentlemen. Jaaayyyyyy Lennnnooooooo!” the announcer said – a simple and modest intro for the man of the hour. He walked onstage as the crowd went vocal with cheers and applause.
Over the course of 90 minutes, Jay Leno left no topical stone unturned, talking about everything from ISIS recruitment, steroids in sports, obesity, relationships, working as a standup when the mob ran the clubs, and even politics. Of course, Jay Leno made sure to not pick sides when it came to this politics routine by spreading the jokes around so that both Democrats and Republicans each got their fair share of being the butt of the joke. No audience members felt the need to voice their political opinion during these jokes, much to my own relief – we get enough of that on social media.
Jay Leno ended his performance by telling jokes in the traditional form of stand up. Modern stand up involves telling stories or poking holes in the norms of society, etc. These were just jokes with a beginning, a buildup, and punch-up designed to be funny. Jokes you could easily memorize and tell your friends the next day. It was a classy way to end the show.
Seeing Jay Leno perform stand-up is something that could easily be considered Bucket List worthy. You’re seeing someone who’s been in our nation’s pop culture for generations, a master of his craft.