04/30/2012 12:56 pm ET

Jay Leno: Chicago 'A Great Town For Comedy,' Helped TV Host Get His Start (VIDEO)

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Late-night comic and TV host Jay Leno called Chicago "a great town for comedy" while he was here for a rare local performance benefiting an area non-profit group.

Leno performed Saturday at Chicago's Cadillac Place Theatre as part of a gala celebration honoring Buffalo Grove-based OMNI Youth Services' fortieth year of providing counseling, services and programming for area children and families.

The legendary host of "The Tonight Show" told NBC Chicago that he enjoys returning to Chicago, where he got his start performing at Zanie's -- the Old Town comedy venue and one of many clubs across the country where the New Rochelle, N.Y.-born comic performed in the early days of his career.

"A lot of good comics come out of this town, this is a great town for comedy," Leno told NBC. "I've played Chicago many times and it's fun to come back."

Leno was reportedly joined by performers from Chicago's own Second City club at the gala.

On Sunday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn honored Leno by declaring the day "Jay Leno Day" in honor of his work benefiting the Chicago-area community group.

The governor called Leno "an extraordinary comedian, celebrated actor, philanthropist, author and husband" in his office's announcement of the day, the Associated Press reports.