While Jay Leno has come under fire for a joke he made on America's Got Talent (which was made during a guest appearance), there are some who are speaking out in his defense. One of his supporters happens to be Last Comic Standing champion Alonzo Bodden, who doesn't feel like Leno's joke was racist.
Variety previously reported on Nov. 26 that Leno allegedly made a racially insensitive joke during a taping of AGT. The publication said that he was filming an interstitial segment with the show's judges, including the recently ousted Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough, in Simon Cowell's hallway. He supposedly remarked about a painting of Cowell surrounded by his dogs that it looked like something that a person would find “on the menu at a Korean restaurant." The line was eventually cut from the episode.
Days after the report, TMZ asked Bodden what he felt about the controversy. According to the comedian, "That's just old school humor. I don't see that as a racist joke." He went on to explain, "I think a racist joke is more pointed, especially more pointed at a specific person, versus doing a joke about a common stereotype."
Leno's comment recently came to light due to Variety's report, which also detailed that Union complained NBC producers and an executive about the former late-night talk show host's comment. The publication reported that Union raised other issues about a supposedly toxic work environment behind-the-scenes, which has led many to wonder whether her outspokenness led to her being let go from the show.
On Dec. 1, NBC and AGT producers Fremantle Media and Simon Cowell's Syco released a statement in which they claimed to be in touch with Union's representatives regarding "next steps." "We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture," the statement read, per Variety. "We are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate."
Also on Dec. 1, Leno broke his silence regarding the matter. According to the Daily Mail, while he was leaving The Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California on Dec. 1 he told reporters, "I love Gabrielle Union, she's a great girl. I really enjoyed working with her, she's really good."
He was then asked whether he thought that Union was treated unfairly during her time on the show, to which he responded, "I don't know, but I think she's a great girl." Finally, Leno was also asked if he regretted telling the joke, and he responded by jokingly miming as if he were going to give a response, but he didn't speak any actual words.