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BURBANK, Calif. – Jay Leno, an honorary Navy Petty Officer, poses for a photo with Marines, in the cafeteria of the NBC Studio, after the recording of Tonight Show with Jay Leno, featuring an all military audience Nov. 11.::r::::n::

Photo by courtesy photo

Jay Leno welcomes service member-only audience

11 Nov 2010 | Lance Cpl. Andrew D. Thorburn

“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” showed their support for the nation’s warriors during a special Veteran’s Day show with a service member-only audience.

Approximately 60 Combat Center Marines and one sailor traveled to The National Broadcasting Company’s studio and joined an audience that represented all four military branches in the Department of Defense and the Coast Guard. Their experience included group photos with Jay Leno and a free meal after the show with the show’s star.

Leno, an honorary Navy petty officer, said the show was for the members of the Armed Forces, and he welcomed them with his own special brand of comedy.

“First of all Happy Veterans Day to all our military members,” Leno said. “I was amazed to find out our military audience had to go through security to enter the building, because these guys are our security,” he said to the cheers of the audience.

The show was taped merely hours before it was broadcasted across the nation that night, thanking service members past, present and future for the sacrifices they make.

After the opening monologue, Leno did a skit titled “Products That Shouldn’t Merge.” He drew many laughs with the different combinations, but it was the last one that made the Marine audience members explode with excitement.

“‘Mothers Polish’ wanted to merge with ‘Smuckers Jam,’ so they called in ‘Soma Muscle Relaxant,’” Leno said. “Then they teamed up with the people who make ‘Bad A** Coffee,’ to come up with this ‘Some Bad A** Mother Smucker…’ the official jam of the United States Marine Corps.”

After the skit, celebrity guest Kim Kardashian was escorted on the stage by Combat Center Petty Officer 3rd Class Lean Peeler, a corpsman with Battery I, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, who shined with pride.

“Just one word - amazing,” said the Cleveland, N.C., native, about Kardashian. “Before the show, I was talking to Kim Kardashian. She is down to Earth. She was glad to be there and proud to be doing what she was doing.”

The reaction from the audience when Kardashian came on stage took Leno by surprise.

“It’s weird that this is 95 percent guys, because most audiences are a good mix,” Leno said. “So usually when an attractive woman walks out, [only] half the audience goes crazy. Here the whole audience went crazy.”

Another celebrity guest, Dennis Miller from the Denis Miller Show, performed some standup comedy and then expressed his thanks and personal admiration to the military members.

“There are a lot of bad men in this world, and occasionally they have to have their herd thinned,” Miller said. “You know when I was a kid I used to read books about ancient Troy and Achilles and that. Then you meet guys like you, and know that they [real-life heroes] are just a bunch of kids with balls the size of Macy’s balloons who go out there and give us every single luxury and freedom we have in this country.”

The show ended with the musical stylings of Soulja Boy, inspiring the more excitable audience member to stand up and dance along to the beat. The energy of the dancing, singing, and by the song’s end, the crowd was wild with clapping and cheering Soulja Boy.

After the show service members took group photos with Leno, then headed out to the cafeteria for a complimentary dinner with the host. The dinner maintained a casual atmosphere as Leno mingled with his guests, talking and taking photos whenever asked.

“He is really humble and down to earth,” said Lance Cpl. Kyle Heuer, a field artillery cannoneer, with Battery I, 3rd Bn., 11th Marines. “He cares about the veterans and his fans.”

To view the entire show or clips of it, check out http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show.

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