After a false start and much fuss, the iconic late night torch appears to be officially passed on as Jimmy Fallon assumed Jay Leno’s seat and his NBC time slot. “The Tonight With Jimmy Fallon” premiered Monday night, capping off a night of Olympic coverage and bringing NBC’s late night program back to New York City for the first time in more than 40 years.Fallon showed off the boyish, goofy humor his fans have come to know through his last show, “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” and on his “Saturday Night Live” Weekend Update gig that first made him famous. After a monologue focused on Olympic Games, Fallon jumped into the type of sketches reminiscent of his “Late Night” act including an Olympic version of a bit called “Tonight Show Superlatives” and a destined-to-go-viral dance sequence of “The Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing,” where he was joined by guest Will Smith.
U2 also appeared on Fallon’s debut, performing their new single “Invisible” on the 30 Rockefeller roof and then an acoustic version of their Academy Award nominated song “Ordinary Love.”
A parade of stars and New York personalities – including Robert DeNiro, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Tina Fey, Joe Namath, Fallon’s time-slot competitor Stephen Colbert and Joan Rivers (who was banned from “The Tonight Show” nearly 30 years ago by Johnny Carson) -- came by to congratulate Fallon, and supposedly pay up on a bet that Fallon would never host the show.
Before jumping into his skits, Fallon thanked his predecessors, including Conan O’Brien, who was pushed out when his attempt to take over Leno’s desk failed in the ratings.“I’m Jimmy Fallon and I’ll be your host … for now,” Fallon joked. Fallon introduced himself to an audience and may have never stayed up late enough to see him on a “Late Night” and said earnestly, “My goal is to make you laugh and put a smile on your face.”
He will continue to try to make viewers laugh the rest of the week with star-studded slate of guests including Jerry Seinfeld, first lady Michelle Obama and Justin Timberlake.