For the first time since Jimmy Fallon made his debut as host of “The Tonight Show” last February, NBC’s latenight gabfest headed back to Los Angeles, its former home for nearly 42 years.
“Or as they call it in L.A…29,” Fallon joked, in his opening monologue Monday night, marking the first show of his weeklong stay out west.
“I remember driving down Sunset Boulevard,” Fallon told the live audience, including Variety, reminiscing about his time working as a standup comedian in L.A. “My gas thing was on [empty], and you know when the needle goes into that weird color paint and you go, ‘I don’t know if I’m gonna make it home, I’m definitely running on fumes right now.'”
He continued, “Now, you drive down Sunset Boulevard, and there’s a billboard that says ‘Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.’
Monday night guest Michael Keaton and musical guest Gwen Stefani, whom Fallon called “Orange County royalty,” gave the host their best Los Angeles restaurant recommendations — a question that seems likely to be asked of all guests this week. Keaton admitted that he recently spotted Fallon’s Sunset Boulevard billboard to which Fallon called “unbelievable” and revealed that he called his parents with excitement at his first glance.
Fallon opened the show with a pre-taped spoof of the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” complete with an Alfonso Ribeiro cameo, which brought him from Studio 6B at Rockefeller Center to Universal Studios, Hollywood, where he’ll be hosting through Thursday. He continued with chatter about the latest headlines, including the Seahawks’ Super Bowl loss, Mitt Romney, and Justin Timberlake’s baby announcement with Jessica Biel. He also presented a new Brian Williams rap mashup video, this time, a West Coast edition to the sounds of Snoop Dogg.
Before Fallon took over in 2014, moving “Tonight” back to Rockefeller Center in New York City, Jay Leno hosted for over two decades from NBC Studios in Burbank, California, where Johnny Carson took the spotlight for 30 years prior, staring in 1972, after a 10-year stint at Rock Center. Conan O’Brien’s brief run in the midst of Leno’s tenure was also taped in California, but from Universal Studios, where Fallon is taking residence this week.
Sunday night, the top-rated show made a special pit stop at the Orpheum Theater in Phoenix, Arizona, for a star-studded Super Bowl edition of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”