Jimmy Fallon began his reign as the newest host of The Tonight Show in the city where it all started.
He brought his writers, the Roots, and sidekick Steve Higgins with him to Studio 6B, just right down the hall from his Late Night studio, and the first night was full of celebrity cameos, family heckling, and showcasing from the guests and the other big star of The Tonight Show, courtesy of musical guest U2: New York City.
He started the show with a heartfelt introduction to those who may be watching him for the first time, but he also managed to acknowledge the elephant in the room in the first minute of his first monologue.
“I’m Jimmy Fallon and I’ll be your host for now,” he said as he listed all of the previous Tonight Show hosts before him (including Jay Leno twice).
It was also a family affair, and along with his late-night family moving house with him, he had his parents, Jim and Gloria Fallon, in the audience ready to heckle him about graduating high school.
His sister Gloria, who has written for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, was also quite the proud sibling.
Once again, I’m disappointed in the “Sibling Congratulations on Taking Over The Tonight Show” section at Hallmark. #FallonTonight
— Gloria Fallon (@GloriaFallon123) February 17, 2014
Anyone worried about missing out on the sketches and parodies that made Fallon a viral star need not worry. He got his first guest, Will Smith, to join him for one of his “Evolution of Dancing” videos that Justin Timberlake and Michelle Obama made famous. Hopefully we’ll be seeing a Tonight Show–worthy House of Cards parody soon enough.
And when he sat on the couch later in the show, he had plenty of advice to offer Fallon about taking over The Tonight Show.
But what may be the best part of the episode came at the aid of Fallon’s parade of celebrity friends and guests. Once seated at his new desk, Fallon, still in awe, thanked his fans for believing in him after all these years.
“And to my buddy who said that I’d never be the host of The Tonight Show, and you know who you are, you owe me a hundred bucks, buddy,” Fallon said before he found out that a lot more people than just his “buddy” thought he’d never get there. That group included Joan Rivers, who had been banned from The Tonight Show since 1986.
It does get repetitive, but the final salute is worth the watch.
All eyes will be on Fallon (and Seth Meyers, who is taking over Late Night) before things settle down, but people liked what they saw so far.
1 cameo, 2 cameo, 3 cameo, 4… 5 cameo, 6, cameo, I’m on the floor. #FallonTonight
— Stephanie Haberman (@StephLauren) February 18, 2014
Nothing cooler than seeing Will Smith do the “Cartlon” dance in Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing. #FallonTonight
— Mike DiCenzo (@mikedicenzo) February 18, 2014
There must be an awesome party going on backstage #FallonTonight
— James S. Frier (@JSFrier) February 18, 2014
I don’t even like U2 but the perf on the Rockefeller’s roof at sunset was really awesome *O* #FallonTonight
— Giulia (@SpilledMilk_25) February 18, 2014
Great job #FallonTonight! You rocked it. Plus, we love anyone who has to work hard late into the night.
— Denny’s (@DennysDiner) February 18, 2014
One down. Hopefully, many to go.
— Steve Higgins (@higbones) February 18, 2014
And if last night’s episode was any indication, Fallon’s going to be just fine.
Photo via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube