If the ’90s version of you time-traveled to the present to be a guest on your show, what’s the first thing you’d say to yourself, after all the fist-pumping and woof-woofing died down?
”A lot less hair and shoulder pads, my friend!”
Bill Clinton played sax on your show in what would prove to be a historic politics-as-entertainment moment. Did you ever in your wildest dreams think that it would pave the way for Mike Huckabee to one day play bass on Leno?
No wonder I can’t book Paul McCartney. Somewhere right now he just threw up in his mouth a little. What a horrible road I’ve paved if that’s how it ended. Huckabee — oh, man. I’m surprised he didn’t wear stretch pants on Leno. Homey has no pocket.
You’ve done a lot of smiling and pointing your fingers like a gun. Did you clear that with Isaac from The Love Boat, a.k.a. Ted Lange, or is it easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission?
Trust me, Isaac from The Love Boat has no knowledge that you’re even using the word ”gun” associated with him. My name is Italian, and I just point a lot. I wasn’t aware that it was Lange-esque.
Let’s talk about your 1988 movie, Coming to America. How bad was the food at McDowell’s, really?
For some reason McDowell’s found a way to fry more things than McDonald’s. You really don’t need your straw fried. And what is a McChitlin? This is how different times were: In the office in McDowell’s — you don’t see this in the movie — there was an oil portrait of Paula Deen.
Rank these celebrities who’ve appeared in Paula Abdul videos in order of rhythm: you, MC Skat Kat, Keanu Reeves.
At the bottom of the list is Keanu, because Keanu has the rhythm of navel lint. We all know that. But here’s the great thing: He’s turned it into cool. It’s like, ”No one will know I’m not Deney Terrio because I’m gonna just be real still and turn that lack of soul into something real cool and Matrix-like.” Now, MC Skat Kat — I’m not going to fake the funk. He’s at the top of the list, we’ve seen him work. I’ve seen MC Skat Kat dance and heard Shabba-Doo say, ‘Dammmmn!’ So I go right in the middle. I’ve always been number 2. Number 2 to Leno, I was number 2 in a magic contest when I was little. I beat Clay Aiken [on The Celebrity Apprentice], but I’m probably number 2 to Ruben Studdard because he did it first.
Congrats on winning The Celebrity Apprentice, by the way. How much credit is Trump taking for your new talk show?
You know how Trump is. The interesting thing is, I think Trump is taking credit for my first talk show.
While promoting that first show on EW’s cover in 1992, you vowed to kick Leno’s ass. That didn’t happen. Make a promise to kick another host’s ass that you probably won’t be able to keep.
Is The MacNeil/Lehrer Report still on? Check, please.