“Folks, I gotta be honest with you,” Jay Leno said at the top of his show Wednesday night. “I had a really awkward day today. I had to call David Letterman and tell him he didn’t get ‘The Tonight Show’ again.”
And such was the state of late night after the big news on Wednesday — that Leno will step down for the second time as host of the “Tonight Show,” handing the reins to “Late Night’s” Jimmy Fallon in spring 2014. It’s been 22 years since Leno first won the job over Letterman, and four years since the whole Conan O’Brien debacle.
“Things move so quickly,” Leno continued. “Jimmy hasn’t even taken over yet and the rumors have already started...like NBC says in five years they plan to replace Jimmy with Justin Bieber.”
Fallon took a more serious note on “Late Night,” calling it a very “emotional” day and thanking Jay Leno for everything.
Meanwhile, other late-night hosts, in addition to David Letterman, weighed in as well — Conan O’Brien, doing a week of shows in Atlanta, made no mention of Jay Leno or his own “Tonight Show” drama, though the audience figured that’s where he was going when he sent congratulations to Fallon.
“I want to congratulate Jimmy. That is a really fun gig. He is gonna do a fantastic — it is!” he interrupted himself as the audience started laughing, anticipating a crack about NBC.
“It is. It’s a really fun gig,”O’Brien continued, sans jokes. “You laugh, it’s a fun gig. And Jimmy is the perfect guy to do it. He’s gonna do a fantastic job.”
And Jimmy Kimmel over on ABC assumed that the job had gone to him, until a producer told him that they meant the other Jimmy. “Does anyone know what the return policy is on yachts?” Kimmel asked the audience.