Cruise Critic caught up with comedian and entertainer Jay Leno aboard Carnival Vista in Cozumel before his performance on May 4 as part of the Carnival LIVE entertainment series. With a packed house and only a few minutes to chat, we jumped right into it. In person, he is as affable and talkative as you might imagine from his TV days. Leno is one of the few comedians to appear in the Carnival LIVE series, which typically focuses more on music acts and concerts.
Q: What is it like to perform aboard a cruise ship?
A: The atmosphere is great. Everyone is in an upbeat, happy mood because it's vacation time.
Q: I overheard you talking with someone about travel tips. Do you have any travel advice for your readers?
A: I travel a lot … when it comes to flying, I do my best limping impression to be able to board early. You know how they let those that need extra time or assistance to get on first? This trick worked for me for years. I suppose that tactic can get you to the front of a line aboard the ship, too. Especially at the buffets.
Q: Don't get in the way of people when it comes to food! What do you think about all the food on this ship?
A: There's certainly a lot! I often say you're never more than 50 feet from a hamburger in America no matter where you are.
Q: Is there a comedian that truly inspired you when you were getting started?
A: There are so many greats, but I have to say Robert Klein was one of the first that really resonated with me. I really felt he was just like me. Most comics were much older, but Klein was around my age and came from the same type of middle class background. He really grasped the idea of talking about the things that no one was really was; I really liked that and learned a lot from him.
Q: Were you the class clown in school?
Q: What are you watching on TV these days?
A: I travel so much that I don't watch a ton of TV. I am really into Netflix. Lately, I have enjoyed the stand-up specials from Dave Chapelle and Louis CK; they're great. I also really like watching The Good Wife.
Q: Audiences today are exposed to so much via TV, radio, social media, and online. How has the world of comedy changed over the years?
A: That's very true. These days, you have to be funny within your first few seconds or it looks like you're not doing that hot. Peoples' attention spans are much shorter, which means jokes have to evoke laughter immediately. The days of telling long, drawn-out stories without frequent punch lines have changed significantly. Those are still great, but it takes a while to work up to them with an audience.
-- Interview conducted by Ramsey Qubein, Cruise Critic Contributor