Jay Leno isn’t laughing anymore.
The former late-night talk show host explained that comedians have to change their jokes to fit the changing times.
“I think it’s like any other thing, you either change or die,” Leno, 71, said on the latest episode of the People Every Day podcast about the era of cancel culture.
The comedian has been on the receiving end of cancel culture when he was criticized for his history of racist jokes about Asian-Americans.
During the podcast interview, the “Tonight Show” alum also explained his metamorphosis in the comedy industry and likened the change to being an athlete. “In football, you have certain rules. And when the rules change, if you don’t conform to them, you’re out of the game,” he said.
He then confessed that in the past, comedians could make sexist, racist and homophobic jokes without much consequence.
“Now, everybody has a voice. You have to change the material to the times you live in,” Leno admitted. “My attitude is, ‘Look, these are the new rules. You want to adapt. If you don’t, fine. Don’t get up and tell jokes then.’ “
The “Jay Leno’s Garage” host apologized for his racist comments about people of Asian descent in March.
He expressed his regret over his racist comments during a Zoom call with Guy Aoki — leader of the activist group Media Action Network for Asian Americans.
During the Zoom call, Leno explained, “At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it. Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either, ‘We need to deal with this’ or ‘Screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.’ Too many times I sided with the latter, even when in my heart I knew it was wrong.
“I am issuing this apology. I do not consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture but a legitimate wrong that was done on my part. MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology,” he continued.
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