WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The cheers of a sold-out Wilson Center was akin to the ruckus applause he received on NBC's "Tonight Show" for more than two decades. Jay Leno brought his prime-time act to downtown Wilmington Tuesday evening.
Leno is no stranger to the Port City. He's performed in Wilmington numerous times throughout his illustrious career.
"There used to be a comedy club here, in the 80s and I played at it a bunch of times," Leno recalled. "It's a nice town. I'm from New England so it's got a 'New Engand-y' feel to it."
From dimly lit strip clubs to the bright lights of the big stage. Jay Leno has played venues large and small. But no stage has garnered him more notoriety than NBC's, "Tonight Show".
Leno made his first appearance on the Tonight show in 1978. After numerous appearances, Leno became Johnny's permanent guest host in 1987. Five years later, Leno took over the reigns, just one week after Carson's final show.
For the better part of 22 years, Leno has interviewed a "who's who" of celebrities, creating many memorable moments for audiences to look back on.
"You know, when you talk to Batman, You're not really talking to Batman, you're talking to an actor playing Batman," Leno said. "I remember the first time we had Barack Obama on the show; he came by himself. So that was fun. You know, astronauts were always interesting, people that accomplished things, Americans who did amazing things, those were some of my favorite guests," he added.
Jay still keeps up with the late-night scene, but its his stand-up comedy act that continues to bring people in droves to his shows. The love of making the audience laugh both fuels and finances his love of classic cars, turning heads everywhere he goes.
Leno told WECT's Gabe Ross that he recently came into possession of a car belonging to none other than the "King of Late Night."
"Johnny just left me his car," Leno said. "Johnny did a special in 1982 called "Johnny Comes Home" In it, they found Johnny's father's car. He kept it for a little while, and then he donated it to a museum, but, unbeknownst to me, he said to the museum, 'Look, when you're done with this, give this to Leno.'"
Jay says he'll continue to tour stand up as long as he can. You could say he still has plenty of gas left in the tank.
"I mean, I enjoy it," Leno remarked. "People always say, Why are you doing this?' Like its some sort of... odd. But, It's actually quite fun. I mean, I like it. It's fun to think up jokes and go out and tell them."