Jay Leno, former host of The Tonight Show on NBC, said the media tends to “focus on the negative” but “the world is a better place than it used to be” overall.
Leno described himself as “one of these people who is hopelessly optimistic.”
“I believe engineers will save the world. When I moved to Los Angeles in the 70s, there were 160 days a year they told you that you can’t go outside and if you do go outside don’t run or exercise because the air is so bad. Well, we don’t have those anymore. I mean, the air is still not perfect but you have, probably, 10 to 25 more times as many cars as you had back then with probably 100th of the pollution so to me, that’s good,” Leno said during an interview with St. Louis Public Radio on Wednesday.
“I really do think the world is a better place than it used to be. I mean, people don’t drop dead at age 45, although some do, but not like they used to. Smoking is down, health things are down, people are getting more health conscious, medicine is getting better. I’m not an idiot. I know it’s still terrible for a lot of people but overall, it’s not as bad as it used to be,” he added.
Leno said people who disagree with his view of the world being in better shape today than ever before are in the top one percent.
“I think things are generally getting better and if you don’t think they are, it’s all because you’re in the top one percent but that other lower percentage, I mean, I believe 50 or 80 years ago, 90 percent of the world was poor, relegated as poor,” Leno said. “Now, it’s probably less than 20 percent, or 10 or 13 percent. I mean, there are still hungry people in the world but not nearly as many hungry people in the world. So we do tend to focus on the negative a little bit with our news and our information but there’s a lot of good things out there.”
The Jay Leno’s Garage host also said that on-demand streaming of entertainment content today is an improvement over the past.
“When I was a kid, you were told ‘here’s what the whole country is going to enjoy and if you don’t enjoy it, tough luck,’ you know, whereas now you can pretty much watch whenever you want,” he said. “I mean, America is changing that way and I think it’s for the good. I mean, when I was a kid, when you went to Vegas, the restaurants were steak, roast beef, chicken, baked potato, a big piece of chocolate cake, thank you, those are your food options. Now, you’ve got Vietnamese, Korean, Thai food, Western BBQ and every conceivable kind of thing. I think it’s all good.”
Leno announced that he will be returning to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday to perform stand-up comedy.