Comic talks about cholesterol, cars, comedy
Driving toward good health
Jay Leno reminds everyone to check their cholesterol
When: The celebrity-driven edition airs at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on CNBC (Channel 24 for South Coast cable subscribers, Channel 48 for North County cable subscribers). Additional episodes air at 8, 9 and 10 p.m. Wednesdays.
A more technical version is on YouTube.
Information: www.cnbc.com, www.youtube.com.
NATIONAL CHOLESTEROL MONTH
Just how many cars does Jay Leno own?
“You sound like my wife (Mavis),” the former “Tonight Show” host and producer told the News-Press good-naturedly by phone from Jay Leno’s Big Dog Garage in Burbank, where he keeps his car collection.
He didn’t miss a beat with the numbers.
“187 cars, 163 motorcycles,” Mr. Leno said proudly.
But on this day, he wanted to remind people of another number.
“Check your cholesterol!” Mr. Leno, 69, said The New Rochelle, N.Y., native said his own cholesterol was well above 200 in 2004. Ideal numbers are below 200.
“Being a comedian, I would eat very late at night because you don’t want to eat before you go on,” Mr. Leno said. “You usually get your meals from guys in paper hats — out of their windows and into your automobile.
“Driving with a burger in one hand and the large sugary drink in the other — that’s pretty much where I was,” he said. “I was always the Triple Whopper guy. I was horrible!”
Mr. Leno reduced his cholesterol to safe levels through better diet and exercise. Now he’s encouraging everyone to get their cholesterol checked, even if they feel fine, as he promotes awareness during National Cholesterol Month.
“The warning sign is the heart attack,” Mr. Leno said. “If you manage to live through the first heart attack, there’s a good chance you might have another one.”
He’s getting the word out in collaboration with Thousand Oaks-based biopharmaceutical company Amgen, which explains what’s at stake at www.cholesterol911.com.
Known as bad cholesterol, high LDL-C creates atherosclerosis, the formation of plaques that can block the flow of blood in the arteries. That increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Mr. Leno said he has persuaded his buddies to check their cholesterol with a car analogy.
“If you drive around your car and you have three lug nuts loose, eventually your wheel is going to come off,” he said. “You might be OK for 500 miles, 300 miles, but sooner or later, that wheel is going to fall off.”
Mr. Leno noted men take better care of their cars than their own bodies. “I think guys should have a ‘Check engine’ light installed in their chest.”
He said he’s staying healthy today with less red meat and flavored waters instead of sodas.
“Someone told me once, ‘One soft drink a day adds 12 pounds a year.’ That’s 24 pounds in two years!” he said.
“And you go, ‘Where did all that weight come from?’ ”
The comedian, who ran five miles a day when he was on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” continues to exercise, taking stairs, for example, when he performs his standup comedy in Las Vegas.
“I try not to eat food late at night. I try not to do so much fast food,” Mr. Leno said.
“I’m still human, and I still have all the weaknesses we all do,” he said.
“I’m just more aware,” Mr. Leno said, noting that he’s paying more attention to nutritional labels. “Now I look and say, ‘Really, this is 580 calories?’ ”
He emphasized that people can change their behavior with simple lifestyle changes.
“Just take the stairs once in a while. Don’t eat that middle-of-the-afternoon ice cream,” Mr. Leno said.
He said he saw the benefits of taking care of yourself during a recent visit with Norman Lear, the creator of “All in the Family” and other TV classics. “He’s 96 years old! And he’s doing great!”
Mr. Leno talked about another subject close to his heart: cars.
He continues to host the celebrity-driven edition of his car show, “Jay Leno’s Garage,” on Wednesday nights on CNBC, where guests have varied from John Travolta to Martha Stewart and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The comedian loves collecting cars such as his 1906 Stanley Steamer, known for its steam engine.
Mr. Leno said his days working on cars provide a balance to his evenings thinking about jokes.
Plus, he said, cars have an advantage over comedy.
People might like or dislike your jokes, “but when you fix an engine and it’s running, no one can say it’s not running,” Mr. Leno said.
There’s no debate over the fact Mr. Leno has made countless viewers laugh over during his 1994-2014 “Tonight Show” run. (There was a break in 2009-2010 when Conan O’Brien hosted the show, and Mr. Leno hosted “The Jay Leno Show” at 10 p.m. on NBC.)
Mr. Leno explained his approach is to present jokes, not lectures.
“A lot of comedians hurt themselves when they make some political statement, then start their act,” he said. “Now you’ve already tarnished it because half the audience agrees or disagrees. I just go and do the jokes, and people can make up their own minds about where I am politically or something else.”
Mr. Leno’s “Tonight Show” segments included his interviews with folks on the streets. At a “Star Trek” convention in Pasadena, he was seen holding his microphone in front of a fan in costume in the dealers room.
“Oh, that Klingon guy from Riverside!” Mr. Leno said, chuckling.
“My favorite thing about ‘Star Trek’ is they would always give you two known factors to make you believe the unknown factor,” he said. “Kirk would say, ‘You’re familiar with the writings of Plato, Socrates and, of course, Cremo from Rigel 7.
“Well, of course, if you know Plato and Socrates, you know Cremo from Rigel 7!” Mr. Leno said, laughing. “They’re synonymous!”
Mr. Leno turned serious again with a reminder to check your cholesterol.
“I always tell people, ‘Don’t talk to your comedian. Talk to your doctor.’ ”