Jay Leno is, once again, leaving The Tonight Show in the hands of a younger, more media-friendly host and “retiring” from a show for which he’s been the host for over two decades. In fact, Leno has done more episodes of Tonight than did Johnny Carson, the beloved host he replaced so long ago.
Now questions of what he’ll do next are circulating. His very successful Jay Leno’s Garage, which he produces entirely online and which set the stage for other shows like Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, has many thinking he’ll go syndicated and put the show on television. Others wonder if he’ll do something very different, perhaps a restoration (ala This Old House) or other quasi-reality show based on his near-200 car collection and its maintenance and restoration needs.
What most people don’t know is that Leno takes his own advice of “rich people work hard” very much to heart. In addition to starring in The Tonight Show, he has also been working on his collection, doing Jay Leno’s Garage, writing car reviews for The Sunday Times of London, and doing standup shows 150 times a year – not to mention the occasional foray into other automotive magazines. Leno, even past 60 years of age, is no slouch and is not comfortable in his success.
So to say that he’ll “retire” and finally take it easy after leaving NBC and The Tonight Show is presumptuous. Leno himself has said on his final night that he will “be around.”
First, of course, all of this assumes that the handoff to the new host, Jimmy Fallon, goes smoothly instead of going sour as it did when he handed the show to Conan O’Brien back in 2009. Fallon’s chances are better, of course, since Leno won’t be doing a competing show to undermine him (that we know of).
What we do know is that Leno is well-known and loved for his passion for cars and vehicles of all types, that his Garage series online has been wildly popular and may be the most popular car show online, and that Leno is not likely to settle into a La-Z-Boy and be content eating popcorn and watching other people on television.
So it’s highly likely we’ll see him on another show, online or not, doing something. My hope is that it’s a cool new, longer-format Garage-style series on Netflix. Of course, that’s mostly because I have a Netflix subscription already and am a huge fan of Jay Leno’s Garage.
What would you most like to see Leno doing as a new project replacing The Tonight Show on his calendar?
As you think about it, here’s the Garage’s latest episode: