Some things you just can't do from Beautiful Downtown Burbank. On the first night of a reinvented, relocated Tonight Show now starring Jimmy Fallon from the heart of New York City, U2 took to the Top of the Rock — 30 Rock, that is — to perform "Invisible" with the glittery Manhattan skyline gloriously visible behind them.
This performance was the spectacular centerpiece of a confident opening night for the boyish Fallon. He quickly reminded us how different of a host he'll be from his immediate predecessor, Jay Leno, by underplaying the monologue (never his strength) and bringing the comedy with first guest Will Smith in a rollicking "Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing" routine that parodied moves from "Running Man" to the "Twerk" — I got an especially big grin at the "Carlton" (an homage to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air character) set to "It's Not Unusual." This sort of versatile, accessibly crowd-pleasing showmanship is Fallon's special gift to late night.
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Introducing himself to an earlier audience — although because of the Olympics, the show started a half-hour later than usual, at midnight ET — Fallon put on a self-effacing Every Guy front, sweetly introducing his parents in the audience and gushing over his 6-month-old daughter, who was backstage. And yet the sense of event was unmistakable as he paid tribute to all of the hosts who came before, celebrated the show's move back to New York, and then set up a terrific stunt by thanking "the buddy who said I'd never be the host of The Tonight Show." Which prompted Robert De Niro to walk on stage to slap a $100 bill on the desk, followed by a galaxy of all-star cameos, including Fallon's former Weekend Update co-anchor Tina Fey, Mariah Carey (with the bill in her bosom), Sarah Jessica Parker (taking money out of her shoe), Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian and frenemy/rival Stephen Colbert, who showered a bucket of pennies all over the host before taking a selfie and announcing, "Welcome to 11:30, bitch!"
As if to reinforce the historic nature of the night, among the parade of guests welcoming Fallon was Joan Rivers, once Johnny Carson's permanent guest host and (according to Variety) making her first appearance on Tonight since her falling-out with Carson back in the mid-'80s.
"My goal is just to make you laugh and put a smile on your face, so that you go to sleep with a smile on your face and live a longer life," Fallon said as he opened his show. So far so good.