2012-02-03 17:07





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By Jay Leno

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As a kid, I never did anything unless somebody was watching. Even now that’s true. You can’t be funny all by yourself. I’ve always wondered why I behaved the way I did. Then I read a children’s book called Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel[2].

There is one line in the book that fascinated me because it sums up my life.[3] Mike Mulligan, in his old steam shovel named Mary Anne, is digging a hole where a skyscraper[4] will be built. The book says, when people used to stop and watch them, Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne used to dig a little faster and a little better. The more people stopped, the faster and better they dug.” As if the machine was somehow drawing power from the people that were around it. And that made sense to me, a perfectly logical reason to dig a great hole or act like an idiot in public.

I was in fourth grade when I told my first real joke. My family had just moved to Andover, Mass., and up until then if I was funny it was because I did stupid, obnoxious[5] things. But this was different.

Our class was studying the legend of Robin Hood[6]. Mrs. Alien was telling us how Robin’s merry men were often captured and then boiled in oil. I raised my hand. “They couldn’t boil Tuck!” I said.

Mrs. Alien asked, “Why not?”

“Because he was a friar[7]!”

The class laughed, and Mrs. Alien smiled just a little. Seeing her smile was such a triumph vastly preferable to being sent to the principal’s office, which was the usual response.[8]

Then, for the next couple of days, other teachers would ask me, “What was it you said in Mrs. Alien’s class?” Apparently, she had tried to relay my joke in the teachers’ lounge and screwed it up.[9] And I thought, Gee[10], I like this! I hadn’t felt that kind of power before. All because I said something that was actually funny.

By the time I was in high school, I was a class clown. One teacher who didn’t mind was Mr. Walsh. For whatever reason he was always assigned to oversee detention duty in the library.[11] And since it seemed like I was always in detention, we’d often sit together.

Mr. Walsh was one of those guys who would laugh at anything. Everything was hilarious[12] to this man. So I’d have new stories for him all the time. One day he said to me, “Why don’t you think about going into show business[13]?”

The idea had never even occurred to me. I didn’t know anybody in show business. But Mr. Walsh’s words ignited[14] something in me. I began telling people I wanted to be a comedian[15]. This didn’t go over[16] well in the neighborhood. Comedy wasn’t a job in New England.

I went to college in Boston and really burned the candle at both ends[17]. While I was running around at night doing comedy clubs, I kept a day job at a car dealership[18]. By the time I got out of school, the comedy money had begun to exceed the day-job money. That’s when I decided, Well, let me give it a shot[19].

Comedy became an all-consuming[20] passion. I played one-nighters[21] in every state of the nation. Whenever I called home, I would exaggerate the accomplishments of other people in show business, because I knew my mother would have like to see me in a steadier line of work[22]. I wanted her to understand the possibilities that lay before me.

Once, when Sylvester Stallone[23] had just signed an enormous movie deal, I called home and said, “You know, Ma, Stallone just got $12 million for ten weeks’ work!”

And she actually said to me, “Yeah? But then what happens those other 42 weeks? What is he going to do if nothing else comes in?”

I spent 300 days a year on the road playing one-nighters, but I had a dream. Not too long ago, I was flipping through[24] some of my early diaries. On a page dated April 28,1972, my 22nd birthday, I found a short entry[25] that said: “Hope to host The Tonight Show.” And finally in late 1986 I was asked to be a guest host[26]. Obviously, this was a great thrill[27].

So on the first day I proudly pulled up to the NBC gate in Burbank. The guard looked at me blankly.

“Yes?” I said, “I’m Jay Leno.” “Where are you going?” “The Tonight Show”.

“Uh, just a minute.” He picked up the phone, mumbled something about a “Jim Reynolds” into the receiver, then said, “Sorry, your name’s not on the list.”

I said, “I think you had the wrong name. It’s Leno. Jay Leno.”

The guard said, “What do you do?” “I’m hosting The Tonight Show.”

He looked at me very condescendingly[28] and then let out a long sigh.

“I hate to tell you this, son, but Johnny Carson is the host of The Tonight Show.”

“I know that. And I’m filling in!”

He shook his head and picked up the phone again.

Anyway, I got in. And, so far, it’s been a pretty good ride.


1. Jay Leno: 杰•雷诺,美国脱口秀主持人。1992至2009年在NBC电视台主持脱口秀《杰•雷诺今夜秀》(The Tonight Show with Jay Leno),该节目一直保持着高收视率。杰•雷诺现主持名为《杰•雷诺秀》(The Jay Leno Show)的脱口秀。

2. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel: 一本儿童读物,译作《迈克•马利根和他的蒸汽铲》。

3. line: 一行字,一句话;sum up: 总结,概括。

4. skyscraper: 摩天大楼。

5. obnoxious: 可憎的,讨厌的。

6. Robin Hood: 罗宾汉,英国民间传说中劫富济贫的绿林好汉。

7. friar:(天主教)托钵修会修士,罗宾汉的手下Tuck是一名修士,因friar跟frier“油煎锅”发音相同,故产生幽默效果。

8. triumph: 胜利,成功;principal: 校长。

9. relay: 转述,传达;lounge: 休息室;screw up: 弄糟,搞砸。

10. gee: 哎呀(表示惊讶或强调等)。

11. assign: 指派;oversee: 监督;detention:(受罚学生的)课后留校。

12. hilarious: 十分有趣的,滑稽的。

13. show business: 表演行业。

14. ignite: 点燃,引发。

15. comedian: 喜剧表演家,滑稽演员。

16. go over: 得到赞许。

17. burn the candle at both ends: 过分猛烈地消耗精力或财资。

18. car dealership: 汽车销售处。

19. shot: 机会,尝试。

20. all-consuming: 消耗一切的,耗时耗力的。

21. one-nighter:(只上演一夜的)一夜戏剧的人。

22. line of work: 行业,职业。

23. Sylvester Stallone: 西尔维斯特•史泰龙,好莱坞著名动作演员。

24. flip through: 弹开,快速翻开。

25. entry: 记录。

26. guest host: 嘉宾主持人。

27. thrill: 兴奋,激动。

28. condescendingly: 居高临下地。




















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