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Kathie Lee Gifford trades jabs with Jay Leno

In advance of her return to network television on Monday after eight years, Kathie Lee Gifford traded barbs with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show Wednesday and showed off her trademark quick wit and good-natured sarcasm.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

In advance of her return to network television on Monday after eight years, Kathie Lee Gifford traded barbs with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show Wednesday and showed off her trademark quick wit and good-natured sarcasm.

Leno asked Gifford, who will be co-hosting the fourth hour of the TODAY Show, how her family felt about her going back to a full-time job, and she joked, “The family togetherness thing is really overrated.”

According to Gifford, the decision to come back to television hinged on lunches. The first was with producers of the show in November, who asked her to guest host, and then quickly offered her the full time gig, Gifford said.

“It was about five months of talking about it and they wore me down,” Gifford told Leno.

A key factor that helped her decision was meeting Hoda Kotb, the co-host of the forth hour of the show.

"She is a beautiful human being and a great soul,” Gifford said. “She and I went to lunch at the Rainbow Room, and she laughed at everything I said.”

Gifford didn’t escape Wednesday’s appearance on the Tonight Show without a little teasing from Leno. While telling him that when she was staying with a girlfriend who lives on Leno’s street and that he almost ran them over in one of his “16,000 cars,” Leno responded, “I saw these two and said to myself, ‘Hookers can be so bold.’”Gifford didn’t flinch. “I had to make a living these last eight years,” she shot back.

He also brought up the subject of Gifford’s recent surgery by telling her “you know they look great,” looking at Gifford, who was wearing a cleavage-revealing black dress.The ribbing continued as Leno asked Gifford if she was “drunk last night” during a dinner that honored comedian Tim Conway.

“I had a glass of wine, or six,” Gifford responded. “Is that wrong?”Gifford said that she put on a show with some of the waiters after the dinner at L.A.’s Chateau Marmont – and that was all Leno needed to know. Then she added that one A-list actor had put on a show for her earlier in the day.Al Pacino approached Gifford at lunch and sang a bit of “Luck Be A Lady.”Leno complained that no one ever approached him during his lunches while he worked in his mechanic shop.“That’s because you’re covered in monkey grease,” Gifford said. “Clean up and I’ll take you to the Polo Lounge.”