NBC has confirmed the rumors, Jay Leno will once again step down as the host of The Tonight Show and pass the baton. But this time it’s unlikely there will be any Jay Leno Show mess (although, NBC’s prime time line up is in such trouble right now, I can’t see how it could make it any worse). This time Jay Leno, unable to not work, will probably go on a nonstop stand up tour until the one day he keels over and dies on stage, and even then he’ll probably not do so well in heaven and come back to earth to live for a couple more years.
But before Jay Leno had the biggest stage in Late Night, he had plenty of smaller ones. He played strip clubs, boats and even sometimes business presentations. One such situation was detailed in his 1996 autobiography Leading With My Chin.
Leno was hired to perform by a pharmaceutical entrepreneur at a presentation for a new product. The entrepreneur told him he would introduce Leno to the potential buyers as his director of sales, and then when they were are all laughing, he would tell them who he really was. For that Leno was promised a payment of $75.
But once the entrepreneur actually told the group of potentials about the product, things took a turn for the worse. Leno wrote:
So then he started the proceedings: “Ladies and gentlemen, I have an exciting new product that will change the habits of American Hygiene! The product is called Fresh’n, which we’ve imported from Japan. Fresh’n is a soft, moist towelette on a roll that should be used after bowel movements to avoid embarrassing rectal odor!”
The crowd immediately began to shift uncomfortably.
If you go to the store now, you’ll have no problem finding somewhat similar products, which are basically baby wipes for adults. But apparently 30+ years ago, investors were not lining up to be the first to bring it to the US market.
After the introduction of the product, the entrepreneur introduced Leno as his director of sales as planned. Leno stood up and did what was suppose to be 30 minutes of material, but both the him and audience wanted out of the uncomfortable situation as fast as possible. So Leno went through his jokes as fast as he could and the audience didn’t try to slow him down by doing something silly like laughing or applauding.
After Leno completed his set in just 15 minutes, the entrepreneur reveled the his director of sales of was actually a professional comedian. The buyers were not impressed.
The entrepreneur went on with his sales pitch. As it became more and more obvious that this guy was not going to make a sale, he became more and more desperate. First perspiring uncontrollably, then offering free cases to the non buyers families so they can see how well it eliminates their rectal odor, so finally openly sobbing. Apparently this guy had used his entire life savings to purchase three hundred thousand cases of Fresh’n, which was currently sitting in warehouse somewhere.
One by one, people began walking out until it was just Jay Leno and the failed entrepreneur, who was now sobbing with his head down on the table. Leno tapped him on his shoulder to ask him for his payment.
As Leno described it, the man did not respond well to the request:
“Get outta here! You professional comedian! You ruined my whole presentation! You got no laughs! You get no money! Get out! Leave me alone:
The man was so upset, I didn’t really want to argue with him. So I just said, “Gee, I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but I did what you told me to do. It’s only seventy-five bucks…”
He gave me a disgusted look and grunted, “Look, just take a case of Fresh’n, if you want.”
So, Leno loaded his car up with what he figured was $75 worth of rectal towelettes. Now that you can buy cases of similar products down at your local Costco, maybe he should of asked for him to invest the $75 instead. Not that Leno, with his millions of dollars and hundreds of cars, has done well for himself since then anyway.