The decade's most triggering comedy
Former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno sat down for his first televised interview since the freak accident that resulted in third-degree burns to his face last month.
Leno said his face was covered in gasoline and was burned while he was in a garage in the Los Angeles area working on one of his vintage cars along with his friend Dave Killackey, who helped extinguish the fire.
“The fuel line was clogged so I was underneath it,” Leno said in the interview. “It sounded clogged and I said, ‘Blow some air through the line,’ and so he did.”
He remembers hearing a noise right before the accident. “And suddenly, boom, I got a face full of gas. And then the pilot light jumped and my face caught on fire,” the comedian continued.
“I said to my friend, I said, ‘Dave, I’m on fire.’ And Dave’s like, ‘All right.’ I said, ‘No, Dave, I’m on fire.’ And then, ‘Oh, my God.’ Dave, my friend, pulled me out and jumped on top of me and kind of smothered the fire,” Leno said.
“I couldn’t even see his face. He downplays it all…it was a wall of fire,” Killackey told Kotb. “I grabbed him by the head and I pulled his head into my chest…started to smother the fire.”
Next, Killackey remembers telling Leno to put cold water on his face while working to control the car fire. “It was horrific; it was a scary thing,” Killackey said. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out: call 911.”
Leno previously said he wasn’t keen to complain about what happened to him.
“You have to joke about it. There’s nothing worse than whiny celebrities. If you joke about it, people laugh along with you,” he told The Wall Street Journal.
“Eight days later, I had a brand new face,” Leno said before cracking a joke. “And it’s better than what was there before,” he went on.
“But really, it was an accident, that’s all,” Leno said. “Anybody who works with their hands on a regular basis is going to have an accident at some point. If you play football, you get a concussion or a broken leg. Anything you do, there’s a risk factor.”
Leno’s doctor, plastic surgeon Dr. Peter Grossman, said the former late night host was “definitely an outlier in terms of how well he’s healed considering the severity of his injuries.”
The comedian said it’s all about perspective.
“When you look like me, you don’t really worry about what you look like,” he said. “Look if I’m George Clooney, it’s going to be a huge problem. … They said it would be all right. My attitude is I trust people who are the best to do what they have to do.”
He also cracked another joke, saying, “The most expensive part of the whole operation was the gasoline. We’re in California. It’s seven bucks a gallon.”