By John Stran
Former host of “The Tonight Show” Jay Leno performed at Stambaugh Auditorium Sunday, returning to his roots as a stand-up comic.
The show began with his observations of recent sexual misconduct cases that have made national headlines.
“Donald Trump was accused of giving Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money,” Leno said. “If that turns out to be true, it would be the first time Trump has ever fully compensated somebody for all the work they’ve done.”
Leno’s performance was comparable to the opening monologues he did so frequently on “The Tonight Show.” Most of the jokes were set up by him saying he observed something weird or off-putting in a magazine or newspaper.
The topics were sometimes a stretch of the truth, but were effective in stirring up laughter from the audience.
His jokes were also topical and poked fun at Republicans.
“Ben Carson has been given a cabinet position and he’s a pediatric surgeon, he’s a genius,” Leno said. “He works with little tiny human brains, which is why he eventually endorsed Donald Trump’s.”
He went across party lines and picked on the Democrats as well.
“You have to realize if Bernie Sanders had won, he would have been the first socialist elected president since 2008,” Leno said. “Oh, I threw one in for the other side.”
He also spoke briefly on how fed up he is with ever-evolving technology.
“I went into the Apple store last week to get a new charging cord and the guy told me I need the new tenth anniversary iPhone and that it costed $1,000,” he said. “I didn’t spend $1,000 on my tenth wedding anniversary. That was pretty much Sizzler and a Hallmark card.”
The event crossed genres and included not only Leno’s stand-up, but also an opening acoustic performance by Aubrey Wollett.
Wollett is a Florida native who brought a country-pop style to the stage performing originals and covers by Johnny Cash and Tom Petty. She said she gained some of her style from her time in Nashville.
Wollet said opening for Leno was a cool opportunity and that the entire night was magical. She said she couldn’t believe that she and Leno were now on a first name basis.
Dan Rivers, radio host on 570 WKBN, was the presenter for the event and while doing so, he gave praise to the city of Youngstown saying it is no longer just the city between Cleveland and Pittsburgh and is now an equal part of Northeast Ohio.
Leno stepped away from “The Tonight Show” in 2014 after being on air for 22 years.
He is currently hosting “Jay Leno’s Garage,” which is in its fourth season on CNBC.