Last night after the Olympics and local news broadcasts, thousands of viewers stayed up to watch the beginning of a new era in late night television: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
The shiny new opening credits began, directed by Spike Lee, and with a new musical composition by the house band, The Roots.
Fallon's first opening monologue was one of gratitude, thanking his parents (who were in the audience) and the former Tonight Show hosts, including Jay Leno (twice), and gushing about his wife and 6-month old daughter.
Fallon also reached out to thank the audience, saying, “I just want to take care of the show for a while...If you guys let me stick around long enough, maybe I’ll get the hang of it.”
After his first opener, he walked off and re-entered the newly-designed set for a second, more typical monologue focusing mostly on the Olympics. The Fallon humor really began to shine through at this point, transforming him from a “I really don’t know how I got here" humble host to a potentially great leader in his time slot.
The "Tonight Show Superlatives" came next, also Olympic-centered, and brought belly laughs to the live and home audiences.
— Rosanne Giza (@thefluffa) February 18, 2014
But one of the biggest highlights of the night came when 39-year old Fallon sat behind his modern wooden desk and said, "To my buddy who said I'd never be the host of 'The Tonight Show' - and you know who you are - you owe me 100 bucks, buddy." That is when the celebrity cameo parade began.
First came Robert DeNiro, slapping money down on the desk in front of Fallon, followed by Tina Fey, Joe Namath, Rudy Giuliani, Mariah Carey, Tracy Morgan, Joan Rivers (ending a long ban from the show), Kim Kardashian, Seth Rogen, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mike Tyson, Lady Gaga, and Stephen Colbert who poured 100 dollars in pennies on Fallon, took a selfie with him, and said, "Welcome to 11:30, bitch!"
After another commercial break came The Evolution of Dance, complete with one of the guests of the night, Will Smith. Once again, Fallon's humor and boyish charm shone through and Will Smith was, as always, dry and charming himself.
Following the overall-clad choreography came a (acrophobic inducing) rooftop performance of "Invisible" from U2, rocking the top of 30 Rock with the Rutgers Marching Band.
At this point, the show took a more typical Tonight Show feel, with an interview with Will Smith and members of U2 on the new couches to the right of Fallon's desk. However, the night ended with Fallon's request for U2 to perform an acoustic version of "Ordinary Love" on stage, which they did without hesitation. The Roots eventually joined in and everyone stood up to dance, enjoying the new feel of the 60-year franchise.
Though some criticized the show, saying it was "typical" and "boring," most found Fallon's first episode to be a smashing success.
"People are coming because of your heart," actor Will Smith told Fallon during the show.
Another episode of The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon can be seen tonight on NBC following the nightly Olympic coverage.
Image via YouTube