Jimmy Fallon ushered in a new era of The Tonight Show, and welcomed the show back to New York for the first time in more than four decades on Monday. Although the former Late Night host was broadcasting from the same studio, with the same band and the same announcer, the historical impact of The Tonight Show's return to the Big Apple was not lost on anyone. In addition to bandleader Questlove's "I heart NY" bow tie, The Tonight Show's new opening credits included historical landmarks such as Lincoln Center, the New York City Public Library and Radio City Music Hall — all shot by famed New York native Spike Lee. "This is the first Tonight Show broadcast from New York in over 40 years," Fallon told the crowd. "I'm Jimmy Fallon and I'll be your host ... for now."
After giving nods to previous hosts Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien (and Leno, again), a surprisingly emotional Fallon thanked his wife, his daughter and his parents (who were in the audience). A slightly choked-up Fallon went so far as to leave the stage and re-enter to do his monologue. However, things didn't go back to normal for long. When Fallon sat down at his desk, he told his "buddy" who had bet $100 that Fallon would never become host of The Tonight Show that Fallon was now owed that money. Moments later, a cavalcade of A-list celebrities and New York City figureheads, including Robert De Niro, Tina Fey, Joe Namath, Rudy Giuliani, Mariah Carey, Tracy Morgan, Joan Rivers, Kim Kardashian, Seth Rogen, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mike Tyson and Lady Gaga, came out one at a time and each threw a $100 bill on Fallon's desk. Well, everyone except for Stephen Colbert, who brought out a bucket of pennies and poured them all over Fallon's desk and directly down his back. "Welcome to 11:30, b----," Colbert yelled, right after he took a selfie with Fallon.
Fallon's first guest, Will Smith, helped show new viewers just what Fallon does best. Before he sat down for his sit-down interview, Fallon and Smith donned denim overalls and T-shirts for a sketch called "The Evolution of Hip-Hop" which featured the two busting out dance moves like the cabbage patch, the pop and lock and, yes, the Carlton. During his interview, Fallon asked Smith advice in dealing with the media pressure. "I was watching all the people that came to support you tonight and people are coming for you," Smith told him. "The Tonight Show is big and historic ... but people are coming because of your heart."
Inaugural musical guest U2 then performed their latest single, "Invisible," with support from the nearby Rutgers marching band, from the picturesque top of 30 Rockefeller Center. U2 also sat down for an interview, during which Bono presented him an electric guitar, and the rock group wrapped with an acoustic performance of their Oscar-nominated song, "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom for the studio audience. "Thank you for watching," Fallon concluded. "I'll see you tomorrow!"
What did you think of Fallon's first Tonight Show?