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Former witness Leno gets laughs after verdict

‘Tonight’ host forced to use surrogate joke tellers during trial
/ Source: The Associated Press

Jay Leno spent most of Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial poking fun at the superstar’s legal predicament — and “The Tonight Show” host didn’t hold back after Jackson’s acquittal on all charges.

“Good news for Michael Jackson: not guilty on all 10 counts. The bad news, he’s going to Disneyland!” Leno joked Monday at the beginning of his monologue.

Leno was called as a defense witness during the lengthy trial. During brief testimony on May 24, the comedian said he became suspicious of effusive and seemingly scripted phone messages he received from Jackson’s future accuser in 2000.

Because Leno was listed as a possible defense witness, he was forced during much of the 14-week trial to rely on surrogate comedians who delivered the Jackson jokes for him.

On Monday, Leno was once more center stage with his own jokes about the King of Pop.

“Michael Jackson is so happy with the verdict when he got back to Neverland Ranch he gave all the cleaning monkeys the rest of the day off,” he riffed. “Thank God, now Michael can go back to being just another regular guy. Watch the game, have a brewsky.”

Leno also referenced other high-profile celebrity cases.

“I was wondering, how does this make Martha Stewart feel? O.J. goes free, Robert Blake walks, Michael Jackson, not guilty,” he said. “She made a phone call, ‘Hello, is this my broker?’ Prison! She’s in prison! One phone call!”

Jackson, 46, was acquitted of 10 counts Monday. They included four counts of molesting a 13-year-old cancer survivor in 2003 and additional counts of providing the boy with wine to facilitate the molestation.

He also was accused of conspiring with members of his inner circle to hold the accuser and his family captive to get them to rebut a damaging documentary on Jackson’s life. Jurors also had to consider four lesser charges related to the alcohol counts, resulting in the panel rendering 14 not guilty verdicts in all.