Biggest difference happened on Monday night when Fallon did two opening monologues – the first in which he introduced himself and set up the show’s storyline for the next (NBC hopes) 20 years or so, trying to put at ease the many Jay Leno viewers who heard Jay say he’s good with being shown the door while still No. 1 in the ratings, but who may not feel so hot about it themselves. That night, Fallon described himself as a guy who grew up in a small town and lives with his “beautiful wife” and six-month old daughter Winnie who he loves so much. He noted his announcer Steve Higgins is from Iowa and lives with his wife and great kids, and that his band The Roots, had backed up Tony Bennett.
Not coincidentally, Fallon’s opening mirrored Leno’s Tonight Show finale in many ways. Both men’s shows included a parade of celebrities paying tribute to the host (weirdly, Kim Kardashian appeared in both parades, though it may not be so odd, what with her Keeping Up with the Kardashians being produced by Ryan Seacrest — an important member of the NBC-parent Comcast family). Jay Leno ended his final broadcast talking about losing his mother and father in the first year he hosted the program; Fallon began his tenure on Tonight with a wave to his mom and dad in the audience, saying how happy he was they are still around, and telling them he hoped they were proud of him, adding “thanks for being there, you guys, I love you.”