Talk show host John Oliver had some choice words Sunday for fellow comedian Jay Leno — some of them not suitable for a family newspaper.
What’s the beef? During an appearance on “Today” last week, Leno bemoaned the political jokes dominating late-night monologues these days.
“I did it when Clinton was horny and Bush was dumb,” said Leno, who left NBC’s “Tonight Show” five years ago. The 68-year-old comedian said that when he ruled late night, he followed “the Johnny Carson model,” in which one’s personal politics were a supposed mystery. Leno added that he’d like to see “a bit of civility come back” to the talk show landscape.
But Oliver, who conducted a one-on-one interview with Monica Lewinsky on this weekend’s episode of “Last Week Tonight,” fired back at Leno, pointing out what he called the veteran funnyman’s hypocrisy. Leno was none too “civil” to Lewinsky, Oliver said. The former White House intern, then embroiled in a sex scandal with President Bill Clinton, was the frequent target of several of Leno’s jokes.
After admitting that his hands “are not clean here either,” Oliver said that many comedians have “since publicly expressed regret about things they said, although one who hasn’t — and who was among the most relentless — was Jay Leno.”
“Those jokes have not dated well in any sense of the word,” Oliver said after showing a video montage of Leno talking about Lewinsky. “And they’re pretty rough, especially coming from a guy who just this week complained about late-night TV, saying that he’d like to see ‘a bit of civility come back.' You know, like that time that he did a bit with a fake book about Lewinsky titled ‘The Slut in the Hat,’” Oliver continued. “And if that’s what he means by ‘civility,’ may I offer my new book, ‘Oh, the Places You Can Go F--- Yourself, Jay Leno!’”
In Oliver’s sit-down with Lewinsky, to whom Leno once jokingly offered a Grammy for “best organ recital,” the British comedian asked how she had survived “one of the worst Internet-fueled public shamings of all time.”
“It was an avalanche of pain and humiliation,” said Lewinsky, 45, who resurfaced decades after the affair as an anti-bullying advocate and a very candid Twitter user with a strong block button.
Lewinsky also offered advice to anyone else suffering from bullying, whether at school or in the national spotlight.
“You can get through it,” she said. “You can move past it. I know it feels like in this one moment that your life will forever be defined by this, but it won’t.”