In the late 1980s, Jon Macks was a full-time political consultant who listened to my then-morning radio show in Washington, DC. One day, he called and offered to write jokes for me — not as a new job, but just for the fun of it and a little (very little) extra money on the side. He quickly proved himself to be a prolific joke writer, turning out huge amounts of topical material every day, and getting it to me by 6am. He snuck me a little bit of insider political insight, too.
After a couple of years of this, he called and said he had some bad news — he’d gotten a better offer. Jay Leno was about to take over “The Tonight Show,” and had hired Jon as a fulltime writer for his monologue. I immediately joked to Jon that he should forget about it, that I would double whatever Leno had offered. Remarkably, Jon turned me down and took the job in Burbank, but promised that he’d still contribute to my show.
Tonight marks 15 years of Jay Leno hosting “The Tonight Show,” and Jon is still there cranking out jokes for the monologue every day — and the volume has increased because Jay’s monologue is at least twice as long now as it was then. He has also parlayed his writing abilities into other opportunities, including several books, and has become one of the top go-to guys for writing award shows, including the Oscars and Emmys.
And yet, after all these years, he still makes time in his schedule to do a segment on my show every Friday afternoon. Today, we talked briefly about his experience with Jay, his recent work on the Country Music Awards, and why he put Eva Longoria’s needs above mine last week. Then he threw in a couple of jokes about Rosie O’Donnell leaving “The View,” Paris Hilton finding religion, and using moose dung as an energy source.