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Comedian Jay Leno made good on his promise to visit hard-hit Detroit for a free show to give something back to the area’s unemployed last week.

The two day event, dubbed “Jay’s Comedy Stimulus Plan,” drew in about 36,000 laid-off auto workers, who were treated to free refreshments and fun, as well as a surprise appearance by Detroit native Kid Rock, who introduced Leno to the crowd.

Leno cited his love of cars as one of the reasons that he chose to travel to the Motor City. “I like Detroit,” he told People Magazine. “It’s one of those old cities. And when you’re an auto guy like me, that city is Jerusalem.” The inspiration behind his decision to offer a free show for those caught in the tumult of the economic downturn, however, was President Obama.

“I’m listening to him say we all gotta do our part in these rough times, and I’m thinking that all I can do is tell jokes,” Leno says. “But if I can go and make people laugh, then that’s great.”

In addition to performing stand up at the event, the Tonight Show host spent part of his time in Detroit visiting with officials from General Motors and Ford; Leno toured the factories’ facilities and test drove some of the newer vehicles in the manufacturers’ product lines. 

Afterwards, he told his audience that he recently purchased a Chevrolet Corvette and a Dodge Challenger, saying that he is “a rich guy” who can purchase any car he wants, but that chose to buy the two American vehicles because he likes them and because they are “world-class” products.

“I think you should buy it because you want to and because it is as good a product,” Leno said. “I don’t think you should buy it because you feel sorry for some situation.”

Ultimately, Leno told the crowd that, the credit for the autos’ superiority lies with the workers of Detroit.

“This is one of the great industrial cities. This is a city that actually makes a product! During World War II, your fathers and grandfathers made a bomber an hour at Willow Run, faster than the Germans or Japanese could shoot them down.”

Leno also credited unions for the success of blue collar workers in decades past. “I want to thank you,” he told the crowd. “You guys created the middle class.”

Due to the warm reception in Detroit, future stops of the “Comedy Stimulus” tour may follow in other cities. Stay tuned for future dates on the show’s website.

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