Leno returns to Tonight stage

Jay Leno has bounced back from his illness, returning to Tonight with jokes about swine flu, the 103-degree fever that sent him to the hospital and the armed guard he said kept him company.

LOS ANGELES — Jay Leno has bounced back from his illness, returning to Tonight with jokes about swine flu, the 103-degree fever that sent him to the hospital and the armed guard he said kept him company.

NBC posted security outside his hospital room after a man apparently pretending to be a Jesuit priest tried to enter, Leno said during the taping of Monday’s show.

“So now I’m like in ‘The Godfather,” Leno told the audience, referring to the scene in which a wounded mob boss is shielded from his attackers. “It’s so stupid. But anyway, we’re back and we’re not gonna be cancelling any more shows or appearances.”

Leno is a valuable asset for NBC, which will be showcasing him in a daily prime-time show later this year after he leaves Tonight.

The network aired reruns in place of two Tonight shows last week, the first time it had to cover for an ailing Leno since he took over as host in 1992.

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