A playwright has written to a US talk show host condemning his jokes about gay people.

Jeff Whitty, who wrote Broadway musical, Avenue Q, particularly had a problem with the Tonight Show presenter’s gay cowboy sketch.

Mr Whitty’s letter, which was picked up by the CNN news station, criticises Jay Leno for dedicating so much comedy material to gay jokes.

The letter said: “When you think of gay people, it’s funny. They’re funny folks. They wear leather. They like Judy Garland. They like disco music. They’re sort of like Stepin Fetchit as channelled by Richard Simmons.

“Gay people, to you, are great material.”

He the gave Leno his view, “I’m tired of people like you. When I think of gay people, I think of centuries of suffering. I think of really, really good people who’ve been gravely mistreated for a long time now.

“When I think of gay people, I think of the gay news anchor who took a tire iron to the head several times when he was vacationing in St. Martin. I think of my friend who was visiting Hamburger Mary’s, a gay restaurant in Las Vegas, when a bigot threw a smoke bomb filled with toxic chemicals into the restaurant, leaving the staff and gay clientele coughing, puking, and running in terror. I think of visiting my gay friends at their house in the country, sitting outside for dinner, and hearing, within hundreds of feet of where we sat, taunting voices yelling “Faggots.” I think of hugging my boyfriend goodbye for the day on 8th Avenue in Manhattan and being mocked and taunted by passing high school students.

“I know you know gay people, Mr. Leno. Are they just jokes to you, to be snickered at behind their backs? Despite the angry tenor of my letter, I suspect you’re a better man than that. I don’t bother writing letters to the “God Hates Fags” people, or Donald Wildmon, or the pope. But I think you can do better. I know it’s The Tonight Show, not a White House press conference, but you reach a lot of people.

“I caught your show when you had a tired mockery of Brokeback Mountain, involving something about a horse done up in what you consider a “gay” way. Man, that’s dated. I turned the television off.”

“You’ve got to cut it out, Jay.

No reaction has been received yet but the presenter has been known to apologise for offending viewers before.