(LOS ANGELES) — As Jay Leno prepares to hand over the reins of the Tonight Show to Jimmy Fallon, he welcomed his successor to the show Monday evening. Before Fallon came out, Leno joked, “He’s not here to talk, he’s helping me pack.”
Leno also joked that should something unfortunate happen to Fallon before he takes the stage, he would be standing by to fill in. “It would be a shame if there was some sort of accident and he was not able…to fulfill his duties as host,” Leno said using a Mafia-style affectation.
Fallon went with the bit, and when he came out, he mimed getting struck by a poison dart, holding his neck and dropping to the floor. A few seconds later, he greeted Leno.
While Fallon was on the couch, both men shared admiration for each other and joked about tabloid reports that said they were at odds before the transition.
Fallon thanked Leno for all of his support over the years, choking up while saying, “Beyond advice and stuff like that, but you…would call me and say, ‘How you doing, you hanging in there?’ And I just — I’ll never forget it.”
Fallon also brought along his Late Night bit, Thank You Notes, penning a few funny ones on the spot.
Fallon delivered a sincere one to Leno that read in part, “Thank you, Jay Leno, for carrying on the proud tradition of the Tonight Show host with such humor and class…I will do my best to make you proud every single night, thank you.” For his part, Leno said, “I think you’ll do a great job.”
Leno’s transition also made the monologue of his one-time late night rival, David Letterman, who quipped about Leno’s second Tonight Show retirement.
“It’s Jay Leno’s last week,” Letterman said on his CBS Late Show. “And also it is the beginning of the Winter Olympics. Two events that happen every four years.”
Leno’s last day on The Tonight Show is Feb. 6. Fallon makes his Tonight Show debut on Feb. 17, while Seth Meyers takes over Late Night the following week.
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