Leading with My Chin

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HarperCollinsPublishers, 1996 - Humor - 278 pages
1 Review
In Leading with My chin, Jay recounts many of the ridiculous steps (and missteps) that have led him on what may be the unlikeliest of paths - from college campuses to Carnegie Hall to Las Vegas and, finally, to The Tonight Show. Unlike many comedians whose acts reflect broken homes and neurotic backgrounds, Jay revels in his wholesome Andover, Massachusetts, upbringing. As the product of a Scottish mother and an Italian father, he had a home life that was equal parts absurd and loving. Which is plain to see in Jay's heartwarming stories about his parents: like the time his mother knocked him out cold with a pot when he was caught ditching high school. Or the night at Carnegie Hall when she shushed people actually laughing at his show. Or when Jay tried to explain to his dad that crushing the roof on the family car wasn't all that bad. Out on the comedy circuit - a virtual battle zone for Jay - he encountered every humiliation a performer has ever known. From the club owners who didn't pay, to mobsters who spared his life and loaned him their guns, to the agent who wanted him to be America's first comedy wrestler, to the brave and naked strippers who beat up his hecklers for him. Then there were the triumphant performance nights when he was literally mugged onstage, when his clothes were set afire, or when he was merely punched out and taunted with death threats. And also that romantic night at The Comedy Store - working with the likes of David Letterman, Robin Williams, Andy Kaufman, and Steve Martin - when he met his future wife, Mavis, outside the ladies' room! In Hollywood, told that his was a face that would frighten children, Jay went on to explore every facet of movies andtelevision sitcoms, playing thuggish goofballs, before he finally took to the road and ultimately became what he had always wanted to be: host of The Tonight Show.

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Review: Leading With My Chin

User Review  - Rachael Doukas - Goodreads

This book really cheered me up. A great story of Jay Leno and his journey to the top. I highly recommend it. Read full review

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About the author (1996)

Jay Leno lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Bill Zehme is the author of the New York Times bestseller THE WAY YOU WEAR YOUR HAT: FRANK SINATRA AND THE LOST ART OF LIVIN'. Recognized among the nation's more unique interpreters of popular culture, he is a longtime writer at large for Esquire, and his impressionistic profiles have appeared in Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Vanity Fair. During the six years of research for LOST IN THE FUNHOUSE, he served as supervising producer of the network television retrospective Taxi: A Celebration and consulting producer of the NBC-TV special A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman. He lives in Chicago.

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