Jay Leno knows a thing or two about being cancelled after past offensive jokes he made came to light, and he’s using that as a warning to his fellow comedians.
In March, during a discussion with the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), Leno said that using Asians as a punchline in his old jokes were “wrong” and he has since apologized. The Tonight Show alum also called his past material “a legitimate wrong that was done on my part.”
Speaking to the People Every Day podcast, Leno says cancel culture is a product of the changing times and comics have to adapt with the times.
“I think it’s like any other thing, you either change or die,” the 71-year-old said. “In football, you have certain rules. And when the rules change, if you don’t conform to them, you’re out of the game.”
Leno further explained that homophobic, sexist and racist jokes may have been tolerated back in the day, but his fellow stand-up comedians need to stop living in the past by including that controversial material in their routines.
“Now, everybody has a voice. You have to change the material to the times you live in,” Leno continued. “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."”
Following his March discussion with MANAA, Leno told Variety, “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. I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.”
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