Jay Leno debut at Northern Quest Casino canceled - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Jay Leno debut at Northern Quest Casino canceled

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SPOKANE, Wash. - Tonight Show host Jay Leno's debut at Northern Quest Casino has been cancelled as bad weather prevented his plane from landing.

Ticketholders can return their tickets for a full refund, or hold onto them as organizers will be trying to reschedule the performance.

Although Leno has been hosting the venerable late-night chat fest since 1991, he's never allowed his "day job" to get in the way of his stand-up comedy dates. He continues to perform as many as 200 comedy shows a year around the country.

"I was a comedian before ‘The Tonight Show' job, and when it's over, I'll still be a comedian. This is what I do," Leno said in a recent interview.

Leno earned his status as one of the country's top comedians in a time-honored fashion. On his way up the ladder, he worked bars, seedy nightclubs and strip clubs, often dodging beer cans and insults as he perfected his craft.

During one period in the 1970s, he even briefly toured as the comedy act in a show featuring two strippers. Leno and the women drove to their gigs in a Volkswagen Beetle with a giant champagne glass - a prop in the show - strapped to the roof.

Long before he replaced the legendary Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," Leno was considered one of the best topical comedians on the circuit. Scouring newspapers and watching TV news programs, Leno's mind is always working on turning the mundane and the ordinary into observational comedy.

In a live show, Leno merely expands on the eight-minute monologue he delivers at the beginning of each "Tonight Show."

"The trick is not to let the audience think you know more than they do or you're smarter than they are," Leno said. "In the (live) show, I get to expand on things that we have to keep shorter (on television). So when I'm doing a live show, the joke you may have heard (on television) might have more than one punch line."

Working two jobs is nothing new to Leno, whose industrious streak dates back to his teenage years.

"I always had two jobs," he said. "I worked at McDonald's and at a car dealership. I would bank one paycheck and use the other for just being a kid. It's the same now. I haven't spent a dime of my ‘Tonight Show' money. That check goes in the bank and I live off the money I make doing stand-up comedy. So when ‘The Tonight Show' gig is over, I'll have a nice little nest egg."