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Jay Leno, host of his own comedy show for nearly two decades, was named the Hasty Pudding Theatrical Society’s 2011 Man of the Year yesterday.
Leno will receive the Pudding Pot award in Cambridge on Feb. 4, just before the Hasty Pudding premieres its 163rd production, “Kashmir If You Can.”
Hasty Pudding producers Nikolus A. Ray ’11 and Matthew E. Whitaker ’12 will roast the comedian before presenting him with the pudding pot.
“It goes without saying that Jay Leno is one of the most notable names in the comedy industry,” said Hasty Pudding spokesperson Learah T. Lockhart ’12.
She said the Pudding sought to recognize Leno not only for his show, but for his continued stage performing.
“He still hasn’t stopped,” said Lockhart.
Despite Leno’s commitment as host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” he performs more than 150 shows a year—including weekly shows in Las Vegas—according to the Pudding’s press release.
In 1977, Leno first appeared on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” whose host at the time was the Pudding’s 1977 Man of the Year. Fifteen years later, Leno took over as a full-time host of the show, which was renamed to recognize its new host.
In 2009, Leno left “The Tonight Show” and handed over the reigns of the storied program to Conan O’Brien ’85.
But amid a conflict over scheduling, O’Brien left the network, and Leno returned as host of the program.
Lockhart said the comedic style of Leno, who has also authored two best-selling children’s books, appeals to all ages.
“We pride ourselves on our ability to make people laugh, and so does our Man of the Year,” Lockhart said.
The press release praised Leno for continuing to “exude the ‘everyman’ style and personality.”
Leno’s roast will occur one week after the parade and roast in honor of the Hasty Pudding’s 2011 Woman of the Year, Julianne Moore, who was named last week.
The Woman of the Year award, which has been bestowed upon actresses such as Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, has been given annually since 1951.
The Man of the Year, whose recipients include Clint Eastwood and Robert de Niro, began in 1963.
The awards are given to “performers who have made a lasting and impressive contributions to the world of entertainment,” according to the press release. But Lockhart declined to elaborate on the selection process of Hasty Pudding’s 2011 Woman of the Year, Julianne Moore, who was named last week.
—Staff writer Monika L.S. Robbins can be reached at email@example.com.
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