Leno’s appearance comes as a surprise, though the timing is no mistake: his upcoming show “Jay Leno’s Garage” premieres tomorrow on NBC’s sister network, CNBC, so his spot makes for a perfect in-house promotion.
During the show, Fallon opens per usual, and then Leno crashes the monologue, surprising the audience and telling a few jokes.
“Ah! Shoot, I think I pulled a hammy on that last joke,” Fallon says. “I don’t think I can continue. But of course, here at the ‘Tonight Show,’ the monologue has to go on. So I think I’m gonna have to sub out. Can someone can tag in for me?” Fallon says as Leno takes the stage.
The Tuesday night monologue marked Leno’s second time standing center stage on “The Tonight Show” since his February 2014 departure when he passed the baton down to Fallon. Following his tenure on the late-night show, the former host of over two decades visited as a guest on Nov. 8, 2014, and also performed standup. When Fallon took over “Tonight,” the show moved back to the iconic Rockefeller Center, after Leno and Johnny Carson had both hosted from NBC Studios in Burbank, Calif. Leno’s visit to the New York City studio this week was likely a seamless stop in his press tour for his car-centric cable show.
Though “Jay Leno’s Garage” keeps him in the NBC family, Leno has been seen elsewhere on TV since retiring from “The Tonight Show.” Last week, he guest-starred on “The Muppets” on ABC, making a cameo as himself, and coming up this season, he will guest star alongside Tim Allen on ABC’s “Last Man Standing.”
Before the episode taped, Fallon took to Twitter to announce the night’s guests — Lady Gaga, Ronda Rousey and Hailee Steinfeld — though he made no mention of Leno. With the slew of star-power, including the “American Horror Story” phenomenon, Tuesday’s show is sure to bring in a big number.
Watch Leno visit Fallon in the clip below: