What’s Ailing Jay? Show Goes on For Leno, Despite Mystery Illness

Jay Leno (seen here on "The Tonight Show" last Wednesday, July 24) has been suffering from a tenacious bug for two weeks (Photo: NBC)

Jay Leno has been dogged by a mystery illness for nearly two weeks, yet he has not missed one “Tonight Show” since the onset of the ailment.

As this week’s “Tonight” shows got underway on Monday night, Leno, 63, delivered his trademark monologue – the longest and most demanding in late-night – in a raspy voice that was a far cry from the robust delivery his fans have long been accustomed to. In fact, the hoarseness of his voice has been in evidence at least since the previous Monday, July 22.

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The unidentified bug Leno seems to have contracted earlier this month is apparently so tenacious that the reduced strength of his normally robust voice was still in evidence last night (Tuesday, July 30) as well — an estimated 13 days since he first came down with it.

Leno’s illness can be traced back to at least Wednesday, July 17, when sharp-eared viewers could first detect that the late-night king’s voice had changed due, possibly, to the onset of a cold. He continued to sound congested for several days, and when he returned after the weekend of July 20-21 for a week of “Tonight” shows starting on Monday, July 22, his voice was hoarse, though not so hoarse that he couldn’t deliver his monologue.

We went back and watched — and listened to — his monologues going back to July 16, and found that the hoarse quality of his voice has persisted for at least the last nine days.

Watch Jay’s monologue from Monday night (July 29) and hear how hoarse he sounds:
[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/watch/The-Tonight-Show-With-Jay-Leno/8687230020288550112/39211587806/Monologue%3A-Jul-29%2C-2013%2C-Part-1/embed 580 476]

He even acknowledged the difficulty on July 22 – one of the only times he’s mentioned his obvious ailment. “I am hoarse,” he said that night as he launched into his monologue. “I’m so excited about the royal baby!” he joked, referring to the birth earlier that day of Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge to Britain’s Prince William and wife Kate Middleton.

For the remainder of last week, Leno’s voice remained hoarse. And when he returned this past Monday after the weekend, his voice was still weak.

So what’s ailing Jay? We asked a press rep and did not receive an immediate response.

Jay mentioned his hoarse voice here, in his monologue on July 22:
[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/watch/The-Tonight-Show-With-Jay-Leno/8687230020288550112/38238787973/Monologue%3A-Jul-22%2C-2013%2C-Part-1/embed 580 476]
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