By Bill Burt
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — John Munro picked up the phone last week and an old friend was on the line wondering what he was doing this past Saturday.
The man on the phone wanted to know if Munro would be able to meet him at McDonald’s in Andover on Route 28.
That man was Jay Leno.
Munro and Leno worked together behind the counter at that particular McDonald’s.
“He called the house and told me that 60 Minutes was going to be doing a piece on him to coincide with his retirement from the Tonight Show,” said Munro.
As for the connection to Munro, Leno’s first dollar earned for comedy was when he was an Andover High student. The duo were participating in a regional McDonald’s talent show with Leno behind a fake counter and Munro the straight man, as a customer.
In Leno’s book, “Leading With My Chin,” one of the jokes he told at the show was this: “Our manager, Mr. Curtain, is very far-sighted. He just bought a hundred thousand case of red and white tiles because he wants to expand!”
Leno said, “For this, we got screams of laughter, believe it or not ... We won the competition and $150 cash prize. That was my first glimmer that money could be made telling jokes.”
Munro joined Leno and 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft, telling stories about their high school days flipping burgers and, well, laughing.
“Jay was always very, very funny,” said Munro, who lives in North Andover. “He was a good guy, too, always smiling and making people laugh. We had a good time working at McDonald’s if you can believe that.”
Munro has run into Leno a few times over the years during his visits to the Merrimack Valley, including a book signing in Andover more than a decade ago. Munro’s son, John Jr., then in elementary school, put down an old black and white photo of Leno and Munro performing.
“Jay was signing, with his head down and then he saw the photo,” recalled Munro. “He looks at my son and says ‘Where did you get this photo?’ Then he looked and saw me and said, ‘Oh, it’s you Munro.’”
Munro said the expected visit by Leno and meeting with Kroft was a memorable one.
“We had a good time (on Saturday) telling stories,” said Munro. “Steve Kroft seemed really interested in hearing them.”
You can email Bill Burt at email@example.com.