Jay Leno Speaks at Emerson College Commencement, AARP’s Life@50+ Event

The Andover native and Emerson alum talked about his Boston roots and shared advice with Emerson’s graduating class.

Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno entertained a range of audiences this weekend.

On Saturday, he spoke with Whoopi Goldberg at AARP’s “Life@50+” event at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and on Sunday, he addressed the graduating class at Emerson College’s commencement ceremony.

AARP was arguably a more appropriate crowd for Leno, whose comments included, “I’m in better shape than other 64-year-olds than I ever was against other 25-year-olds!” The crowds here identified with Leno, who hosted the Tonight Show for about 22 years from 1992 to early 2014—minus the controversial year of Coco, which we need not delve into here.

From Saturday’s convention, where attendees learned about instant messaging and hashtags, Leno moved on Sunday to speak at his alma mater, Emerson, one of the country’s most social media-savvy colleges.

He addressed this slightly younger crowd—you might call them members of the Fallon era—at Agganis Arena and offered the graduating class his “rules of show business,” which include, “Never go on stage mad,” “Anybody can have a life; careers are hard to come by,” and other wise one-liners that you could probably find in any commencement speech in any industry.

But that’s OK, because while the AARP crowd probably would not have accepted tips like, “Never turn down a job because of money,” that’s exactly the sort of thing bright-eyed 22-year-olds want to hear on graduation day.

Leno, who graduated from Emerson in 1973, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the school this weekend, as did Scott Simon of NPR, Don Lemon from CNN, and Greater Boston Food Bank president Catherine D’Amato.


Update May 12, 2014, 8 p.m.: Added video of Jay Leno’s commencement speech at Emerson College.

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