Comedian Jay Leno apologises for racist Asian jokes

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Mar 25, 2021, 10:47 AM(IST)

Jay Leno Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

Admitting the problematic nature of the jokes, Jay Leno told members of Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), “At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless. I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”

Comedian Jay Leno apologised for his jokes that he admits were racist as they were at the expense of the Korean and Chinese communities. 

Admitting the problematic nature of the jokes, Jay Leno told members of Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), “At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless. I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”

“At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it,” he said and added, “Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either ‘We need to deal with this’ or ‘Screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.’”

He didn’t think this to be an example of cancel culture but rather an airing of what he called a “legitimate wrong” on his part.

“Too many times I sided with the latter” — meaning the “screw ’em” side — “even when I knew in my heart it was wrong,” he said in the statement. He ended it with, “I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.”

Guy Aoki, founding president of MANAA, said in Wednesday’s statement that the former late night TV host, Jay Leno would never make racist jokes about the eating habits of Black people.

Jay Leno and his line of racist jokes came into the spotlight after Gabrielle Union, a judge on ‘America’s Got Talent’ when Leno appeared as a guest judge, was fired from ‘AGT’ after only one season and then alleged a racist and toxic environment existed on the show.

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