Jay Leno kicked off his late-night monologue Wednesday addressing what must have been on fans' minds since they heard the official news: Next year “The Tonight Show” will move to New York City, where Jimmy Fallon will take over as host.
“I had a really awkward day today,” Leno said. “I had to call David Letterman and tell him he didn’t get ‘The Tonight Show’ — again.”
Before getting to his usual shtick, jokes about current leaders and events, Leno congratulated Fallon, who he called “a helluva guy.” He asked him — tongue in cheek — to do his best to keep NBC in fifth place in the ratings and not let it slip into sixth.
And things are moving quickly! Fallon hasn’t taken over yet, Leno said, and rumors are already flying: “NBC said they’re replacing Jimmy Fallon in five years with Justin Bieber.”
So what’s Leno going to do now? Well, you heard it here first: “Today,” Leno said, “I accepted a new position. I’m going to be the new head coach at Rutgers University.” That, of course, was a reference to Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice being fired hours earlier for verbally and physically abusing his players during practice.
Back in New York City, Fallon had a few things of his own to say. But before starting his monologue, “Late Night” house band The Roots played the instrumental theme music to “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”— Carson being one of Fallon’s show-biz heroes.
“This is ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ — for now,” said Fallon. “Don’t worry. Until February our focus is right here on whatever this show is called.”
After the monologue, Fallon, sitting at his desk, said it’s been a lot more emotional for him than he thought it would be. He thanked his staff, crew, and The Roots. And he thanked Jay Leno for “being so gracious.”