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Jay Leno Back on TV with ‘Jay Leno’s Garage’, Shades Jimmy Kimmel

SURPRISE! Jay Leno still refuses to leave late night TV, derives life force from dwindling audience laughter.

As if he didn’t learn from his previous exit and return to TV, Jay’s coming back for Jay Leno’s Garage, premiering Oct. 7 at 10/9c on CNBC.

In an attempt to be a good American Top Gear that hasn’t imploded, Leno is hosting a show where he will also investigate classic cars, super cars, restoration projects and road tests. He’ll do this all while traveling the country looking for interesting cars and the stories of people who drive them. The series is an eight-episode run and leaves him on the road 210 days a year, 60 more than his Late Night schedule.

Jay Leno’s Garage has been produced online for years and last August,  CNBC aired a one-hour special of the program. Leno wants fans to know that the format will not be similar to his Late Night show stating “lightning only strikes once.” The statement is inaccurate but the platitude stands, as does the fact Garage will have a smaller budget.

Leno has been doing stand-up since his turn at Late Night ended in February 2014.

He spoke with TV Insider about his lull between productions, including explaining why he isn’t interested in a stand-up special.

I go out and work, come back with more money and put it in a hammock. That’s the way I do it. You do a TV show or an HBO special, and you make a penny a customer. Maybe a tenth of a cent a customer. When you do a live show, you make $10, $20 a customer. Plus, the difference between looking through a window into a nightclub and being in the nightclub is night and day. The number of times people say to me, “Oh, I watched so-and-so’s comedy special and I didn’t think it was that funny.” Well, did you see them live? It’s hilarious. The other problem when you view these things on tape, they do an hour, and then they go on the road and do that hour, and people go, “I just heard that thing last night!” I don’t want to be greedy. If you want my comedy, I will come to where you are and do it. Let’s all sit in a room and put the iPhone away.

When asked what happened with a Dave Letterman/Jay Leno reunion before the end of his Late Night turn, he refereed to Dave as an “odd duck.” He told about Dave not wanting to send a 10-second tape to his last show.

We go back a long time, we have a lot of history. Not bad history. We started out together; I think we both complemented each other when we started out. I didn’t know what Dave’s attitude would be, so we just didn’t do it.

Leno also talked of the new boys in town that have taken over in his retirement:

I like Seth, I like Jimmy. I think Colbert will be really good. He’s really clever. I don’t know him well. The right likes to paint him as a tool of the left, but the man teaches Sunday School. He’s a pretty conservative guy from what I can see. But he’s a truly nice guy and decent human being. The most element you can have in doing a late night show is kindness. Because the show makes you arrogant. I think that’s Jimmy Kimmel’s problem. I think he’s a talented guy, I think he’s funny. But he has a mean streak, and it comes across. He does this thing where he takes Halloween candy from kids and the kids cry. What am I missing here? It is funny I guess, but it’s mean-based. I think that’s why he’s not higher in the ratings.

Maybe he’s just missing a silly accent and a refusal to leave TV past 10 pm. We’ll see you soon, again, Leno.

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