January 29, 2014 5:03pm PT by Hilary Lewis
Jay Leno on Watching His Competition, Stand-Up Future (Video)
Jay Leno continued his publicity tour leading up to his final episode of The Tonight Show, stopping by The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday.
During the daytime show, the late-night host talked about why he watches his competition and what his future of focusing on stand-up, which he's done while he's hosted Tonight, will be like.
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Leno said he watches other late-night shows so he can try to avoid charges he stole someone's joke.
"You have to watch other late-night shows because you've got to find out -- like we live in an era now with blogging -- nobody ever happens to do the same joke by accident. You've always stolen the joke. So you try to watch other shows. 'OK, that sounds like something Craig Ferguson did, I don't want to do that. That sounds like something Dave [Letterman] did; I don't want to do that.' So you really have to be aware of your surroundings," he said.
The day after his final Tonight Show, as he told The Hollywood Reporter in this week's cover story, he'll go to Florida for a stand-up gig and spend some time on the road as a stand-up comedian.
While he has continued to do stand-up gigs while hosting Tonight, Leno is looking forward to being able to focus on just his live shows.
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"I can go out on a school night, which I've never been able to do," he said."I've never been out in 22 years on a Wednesday night. It's like you're doing something wrong. You have to go home and write jokes every single night."
He added that because he'll be playing to different crowds every night, he can do the same jokes, but tweak them a bit with each performance.
"When you work on the road, Monday night you can do the joke, Tuesday you can work on it, Wednesday you can change it and you can take what was a three- or four-second joke and pull it out, make it breathe a little bit," he explained.
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Leno and DeGeneres also reminisced about their first meeting in San Francisco when DeGeneres, who had just started doing stand-up, was excited to be on the same bill as Leno. She was also touched by the fact that he signed her poster, "See you at the top."
Leno then joked, "The Top closed in 1984. It was a strip joint right off of Broad Street."
Watch Leno's interview on Ellen below.