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Jay Leno

“Tonight Show” host Jay Leno is coming under fire from radio giant Rush Limbaugh after the late-night comedian ordered eBay to stop allowing sales of tickets to his free comedy shows in the Detroit area.

“The unemployed don’t want concerts, they want jobs!” Limbaugh exclaimed on his program today. “If Jay Leno wanted to do something for the unemployed, conduct a search and hire a couple.”

“Jay, you know I love you, but do you realize you are stripping people of their dignity in Detroit?” Limbaugh added, explaining the comic was “taking money out of their hands under the guise of compassion and assistance and helping the unemployed.”

Leno recently announced he’d bring his Comedy Stimulus Plan to the Palace of Auburn Hills on April 7 and 8, saying, “I want to do a show for not just the autoworkers – anybody out of work in Detroit.”

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“You don’t even have to be unemployed; you just have to be having a hard time,” Leno added.

But on Monday night’s “Tonight Show,” Leno said it was no laughing matter when he discovered tickets for his free performance being auctioned online: “Here is something that annoys me. I look on eBay today and I see four tickets to my show for sale. … You’re out of your mind to pay $800 to see me. … I would like to ask the people on eBay to take the tickets down. There is nothing for sale here.”

Limbaugh, who stressed that he likes Leno, calling him a nice guy and understanding the comic wants to help people, explained Leno’s objective was not being accomplished.

“The people he wanted to help who got tickets, went out and sold the tickets for real money that could really help, he shut that down,” Limbaugh said. “He shut down the eBay sales process. So, the one thing that he was doing that was generating genuine assistance to people he stopped.”

Limbaugh clowned that as part of a teaching moment, his radio program tomorrow would be free for listeners, as it always is.

Some messageboard comments about Leno’s actions include:

  • I am appalled that people would take these tickets that Jay is giving out for free and attempt to sell them to the highest bidder! I know several people that would have loved the opportunity to get out for an evening of entertainment, but couldn’t even get close to getting in for them and here comes some jerk who got in line, got the tickets and couldn’t wait to get home and try to make a buck! It’s people like that that give Detroiters a bad name and reputation.
  • If I were out of work, I would much rather have the money than get to see Leno. That’s free market capitalism at work, plain and simple.
  • If Jay is doing this for poor folks, and some poor folk is able to get some cash for selling his ticket, then what exactly is the problem? Seems like Jay would be doing even more good by telling everyone just to sell their tickets if they really need the cash instead, and would come off like an even bigger hero than he already is.

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