Jay Leno Jokes About ‘Tonight Show’ Layoffs

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(CNN) — Perhaps Jay Leno was hoping some jokes would soften the blow of “The Tonight Show’s” recent layoffs, as he opened his monologue on Monday with a few wisecracks about the pink slips that were handed out on Friday.

“Welcome to ‘The Tonight Show’ – or as Comcast calls us, ‘The Expendables!'” he quipped. “As you may have heard, our parent company has downsized ‘The Tonight Show.’ We’ve consistently been No. 1 in the ratings, and if you know anything about our network, that kind of thing is frowned upon…”

Leno rolled right along, kidding that the layoffs weren’t even the half of it.

“I have more bad news,” he told the audience. “It turns out we’ve been taken over by Bain Capital. I knew something was going on. Friday morning I woke up and there was a peacock head in my bed. But the good news – it’s still free to get into ‘The Tonight Show.’ The bad news is it’s a hundred bucks to get out.”

The audience chuckled, but Leno was likely feeling a little less light-hearted. A source told CNN on Saturday that between 20 and 25 employees of “The Tonight Show” were let go, and that Leno opted for “a substantial pay cut” in order to save his staff from further cuts.

According to the source, the layoffs were part of a plan to adjust the show’s expenses to be more in line with typical late night programming as opposed to prime-time fare.

By Breeanna Hare – CNN

CNN’s Denise Quan contributed to this report.

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