Rain didn’t dampen the excitement outside the studio of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” Thursday as the longtime entertainment staple in Burbank filmed his final show.
Those who had tickets stood under an overhang, waiting to be checked in and receive an audience pass. Once checked in, they waited under a tent to keep out of the soggy conditions.
About 20 to 30 people without tickets lined up along Bob Hope Drive at the entrance to the studio, hoping to get a chance to attend the taping of Leno’s 4,610th show.
Among the hopefuls was Christian Boba, who came down from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and was at Johnny Carson’s final show 22 years ago.
“I was here for Johnny Carson's last show and Jay Leno's first show,” Boba recalled of Leno’s first hosting gig on May 25, 1992. “It's going to mean a lot to Burbank to lose him. As I was explaining to other people, Jay Leno, even though the show is continuing in New York with Jimmy Fallon — who's going to be great — this is the last link to the old Carson era.”
Dixie Tung of Los Angeles said Leno will be missed on many levels.
“I feel like he's the best. He's an icon in the industry. I feel that he's just such a contributor to society,” Tung said. “He makes you laugh. He definitely tells the news in a different way. I always say that if you don't have time or miss the news on a particular date, tune into Jay Leno because you'll get it all.”
Leno’s final show included appearances by entertainment powerhouses such as Oprah Winfrey, Carol Burnett and Billy Crystal, who was Leno’s first guest back in 1992 and was his last guest on Thursday. President Barack Obama, who was a guest on the show a few times over the years, sent a recorded farewell to Leno.
Brad Hair of Seattle, Wash., said he had fond memories of Leno’s show.
“I watched Jay growing up,” he said. “My parents would tell us to go to bed, but I was in grade school and would sneak out to watch his shows — even though I didn't understand half his jokes. I don't know what size shoes Jimmy Fallon wears, but he's got some big ones waiting for him.”
Husband and wife George and Elizabeth Yemetz of Burbank said Leno impacted several generations and they’ll miss his local presence.
“Even my 8-and-a half-year-old is sorry he's leaving,” said Elizabeth Yemetz. “I was lucky to come here a couple of times. New York's gain is Burbank's loss. It's huge.”
“We see him driving his cars down Hollywood Way,” said George Yemetz. “Our son is big into cars. He's always excited to see what he's got. It's nice having him around town. He's a great guy. I've heard nothing but good things about him.”
Follow Tim Traeger on Twitter: @TraegerTim.