“I don’t like goodbyes – NBC does – but I don’t care for them,” an emotional Jay Leno said, kicking off a star-studded final broadcast show as host of The Tonight Show. “Tonight is our last show for real. I don’t need to be fired three times — I get the hint,” Leno joked to a friends-and-family studio audience as he ended his 22-year run Thursday night. It’s his second very-last-time-as-host — having been pushed aside in 2009 by NBC to make way for Conan O’Brien, who lasted seven months.
“I’ve got to tell you, the outpouring from people has really been touching. Anthony Weiner sent me a photo of his penis looking really sad.”
In sharp contrast to the “last” time Leno celebrated his very last night as host of Tonight Show in 2009 — when, ever the team player, he had O’Brien as his final night’s guest — tonight’s show was packed with celebrities including President Obama. Longtime pal Garth Brooks performed his hit “The Dance.” And a cast of A-listers including Oprah Winfrey, Jack Black and Carol Burnett performed with Billy Crystal and The Shut Your Von Trapp Family Singers, the Rogers & Hammerstein tune from The Sound Of Music, “So Long, Farewell” with lyrics changed to suit the occasion. (Watch a clip below.) The show ended with Leno in tears as he thanked the audience, calling the Tonight Show crew his family and wishing his successor Jimmy Fallon well. (Video at the end of the post.)
But first, Leno mulled exactly how long 22 years is.
– “Here’s how long ago it is. When I started hosting, marijuana was illegal and you could smoke cigarettes anywhere you wanted.”
– “Twenty two years ago, guys actually had to go to newsstands for porn, can you imagine?”
– “So much has happened. You know the saddest part – OJ never found the real killers.”