For his monologue, Leno told a series of amusing jokes about how much the world has changed since he took over “The Tonight Show” from Johnny Carson:
- “When I started, marijuana was illegal and you could smoke cigarettes any place you wanted.”
- “Twenty-two years ago, there was no Craigslist. Serial killers had to meet their victims the old-fashioned way — at the bus station at midnight.”
- “Twenty-two years ago, guys actually had to go to the newsstand for porn. Can you imagine?!”
Billy Crystal was (again) the emcee to send Leno off. Crystal was Leno’s first “Tonight Show” guest and also appeared for the 2009 send-off — check out videos of those appearances below. In 2009, Crystal sang a song set to the tune of “My Favorite Things.”
This time around, Crystal recalls Leno’s 20-plus years of monologues: “When it was announced recently that America’s No. 1 terrorist had been captured, who told us it was Justin Bieber? You did. … When Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband’s willie, who described her as ‘single’ and him as ‘unattached.’ You did.”
The two old friends then mostly just reminisce about their lives in show business, which is an enjoyable interview, but you know Crystal would not leave without a song — this one set to “So Long, Farewell.” Boy, NBC loves it some “Sound of Music,” huh?
Crystal was joined by Jack Black, NBA-er Chris Paul, Sheryl Crow, Jim Parsons, Carol Burnett, Oprah Winfrey and … Kim Kardashian. Yep.
Some other highlights included celebrity messages. Here are some of the best ones:
President Obama: “Jay, you’ve made a who lot of jokes about me over the years. But don’t worry, I’m not upset. On a totally unrelated note, I’ve decided to make you my new ambassador to Antarctica. Hope you’ve got a warm coat, funny man.”
Charlie Sheen: “You, unlike me, have saved every penny you’ve ever sent. So you can just buy NBC and fire everybody. F*** those d*****bags.”
Jimmy Fallon: “I just wanted to say thank you again for all the great advice you’ve given me, I really appreciate all the phone calls and just checking up on me, it means the world to me. I wanted to let you know that if a big story ever breaks and you have your head full of jokes and you just have to get them out there, you can always come home and tell them on ‘The Tonight Show.’ Thanks, Jay.”
Leno finishes the broadcast with a nice message for the fans and the cast and crew he’s worked with all these years. “This has been the greatest 22 years of my life. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. … I’m real excited for Jimmy Fallon. It’s fun to be the old guy and sit back here and see where the next generation takes this great institution. It’s been a great institution for 60 years. I’m so glad I got to be a part of it, but it really is time to go and hand it off to the next guy, it really is. In closing, I’d like to quote Johnny Carson, who was the greatest guy to ever do this job. He said, ‘I bid you all a heartfelt goodnight.'”
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” premieres Monday, Feb. 17. What did you think of Leno’s second “Tonight Show” farewell?