Entertainment

Margaret Cho graciously accepts Jay Leno’s ‘meaningful’ apology for insensitive jokes about Asians

Back in March, Jay Leno issued an apology for making insensitive jokes about Asians during his successful career as a comedian and talk show host. 

And now, as she gets ready to guest star on Leno’s motor vehicle series – Jay Leno’s Garage, Margaret Cho is sharing about why she decided to forgive the former host of The Tonight Show.

Leno’s Asian jokes, and subsequent complaints, date back decades, with the most recent being on the set of America’s Got Talent in 2020, according to the Media Action Network For Asian Americans.

Apology accepted! Margaret Cho, 52, opened up about her decision to forgive Jay Leno over his insensitive jokes about Asians over the years

The topic came up while Cho was promoting her new romantic comedy film, Good On Paper, in which she plays a lesbian. 

During an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Cho was asked whether she had confirmed her appearance on Jay Leno’s Garage before or after his apology.  

‘Frankly, Asian jokes go over my head because I’ve heard so many of them. I do a noise-cancelling thing with them,’ the stand-up comedian, 52, began.

‘I booked Jay quite a while ago,’ she added before sharing her feelings about Leno’s apology head on.

‘For him to step up and take respon­sibility is very meaningful. I’m so pleased with his response. I accept apologies.’

Her take: 'For him to step up and take respon­sibility is very meaningful. I'm so pleased with his response. I accept apologies, Cho said of Leno's apology

Her take: ‘For him to step up and take respon­sibility is very meaningful. I’m so pleased with his response. I accept apologies, Cho said of Leno’s apology 

Long history: Cho, who is openly bi-sexual, appeared on The Tonight Show during Leno's long reign as host (1992-2009, 2010-2014)

Long history: Cho, who is openly bi-sexual, appeared on The Tonight Show during Leno’s long reign as host (1992-2009, 2010-2014)

Leno, 71, apologized three months ago during a Zoom call with Guy Aoki, the co-founder of the Media Action Network For Asian Americans (MANAA).  

‘At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless. I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them,’ Leno explained.

‘At the time, there was a prevailing attitude that some group is always complaining about something, so don’t worry about it. Whenever we received a complaint, there would be two sides to the discussion: Either “We need to deal with this” or “Screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.” Too many times I sided with the latter even when in my heart I knew it was wrong,’ he continued.

While issuing the apology, Leno made sure to point out that he ‘doesn’t consider this particular case to be another example of cancel culture, but instead, a legitimate wrong that was done on my part.’

He added, MANAA has been very gracious in accepting my apology. I hope that the Asian American community will be able to accept it as well, and I hope I can live up to their expectations in the future.’    

Motorhead: Cho will be a guest star on Leno's series about motor vehicles - Jay Leno's Garage

Motorhead: Cho will be a guest star on Leno’s series about motor vehicles – Jay Leno’s Garage

Cho is best known for her stand-up comedy routines, oftentimes through critiques of social and political issues and problems, especially regarding race and sexuality.

She rose to prominence after creating and starring in the ABC sitcom All-American Girl ( (1994-1995), which led to her successful  as an established stand-up comic in the subsequent years.

Cho has been a consistent supporter of LGBT rights, and has won awards for her humanitarian efforts on behalf of women, Asian Americans, and the LGBT community. 

In 2012, she was nominated for an Emmy Award for her guest starring role as Dictator Kim Jong-il on 30 Rock. 

Good on Paper, which also stars Iliza Shlesinger, Ryan Hansen and Rebecca Rittenhouse, debuted on Netflix this past Wednesday, June 23, 

The San Francisco native, who is openly bisexual, plays a lesbian in the new romantic comedy film, Good On Paper, which dropped on Netflix June 23

The San Francisco native, who is openly bisexual, plays a lesbian in the new romantic comedy film, Good On Paper, which dropped on Netflix June 23


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