Lots of folks in the comedy community make a habit of giving Jay Leno a hard time — but Jimmy Fallon isn’t one of them. Even during the Great Tonight Dust-Up of 2010, Fallon refused to jump on the anti-Leno bandwagon, preferring instead not to take sides — and to assure his audience that he was just “happy to have a job.” (Granted, unlike Jimmy Kimmel or David Letterman, Fallon was working for the same network as Leno and Conan O’Brien — so it’s easy to understand why he’d want to take a neutral stance.)
And even now, mere weeks before Fallon is set to inherit Leno’s on-again, off-again late night throne, he’s still erring toward humble and gracious. As a guest on Leno’s fourth-to-last Tonight Show ever Monday, Fallon feted his predecessor as “the nicest guy in the business” — before launching into a “thank-you note” bit that celebrated Jay.
The full text of Fallon’s note:
“Thank you, Jay Leno, for passing the torch to me. Hopefully it doesn’t get intercepted by a Seahawk. Thank you, Jay, for teaching me how to be a late-night host — but was it really necessary for me to ‘wax on, wax off’ your entire car collection? I didn’t know I was going to get Miyagi-ed when I came out here. Thank you, Jay, for giving me such great advice for the Tonight Show like ‘you don’t need a monologue,’ and ‘have you ever thought about getting bangs?’
“And finally, thank you Jay Leno, for carrying on the proud tradition of the Tonight Show host with such humor and class and for being nothing but gracious and generous to me over the past years. I will do my best to make you proud every single night. Thank you.”
Leno ended the segment by clasping Fallon’s hand and declaring that Jimmy will “do a great job” as Tonight host. So maybe Jay still wishes he didn’t have to leave — but he can hardly complain about the guy who’s replacing him.