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Thursday marks the last episode of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but will the longtime NBC host someday return to The Tonight Show — not as the host, as happened after Conan O’Brien‘s brief tenure, but as a guest?
Jimmy Fallon said his predecessor is always welcome to take the stage on his new, New York-based Tonight Show.
“I told Jay, I gave him a round-trip ticket to New York … the stage is his, so whenever he wants, he’s got a stage,” Fallon said in an interview that aired on Wednesday’s Today.
But Fallon’s not being overly generous — it’s a coach ticket, he said, because Leno’s humble.
But evidently Leno’s not above making jokes about when he returned to The Tonight Show, replacing O’Brien.
In more of Matt Lauer‘s sit-down with Leno and Fallon, the Today host asked Leno when he first thought it was possible that he would become the host of The Tonight Show and Leno joked, “That was five years ago,” and both he and Fallon laughed.
Incidentally, five years ago was roughly the time NBC forced Leno to cede the Tonight Show hosting gig to Conan O’Brien, giving him his own show at 10 p.m. In 2010 Leno returned as Tonight Show host, and, as he recently told The Hollywood Reporter, he hasn’t spoken to O’Brien since he left NBC.
Fallon also revealed that he’s looking forward to the new chapter in his life and recalled Jerry Seinfeld telling him the Tonight Show gig is a lifetime appointment, doing his Seinfeld impression in the process.
“Seinfeld came up to me at a party,” Fallon recalled. “And we were talking about this, and he said [in Seinfeld voice], ‘You’re doing a pope job. You’ve got this forever. Do you realize that? Is that what you want?'”
In terms of what to expect from his show, Fallon says he and his team hope to come out of the gate “fast and hard” to follow Leno’s 22-year run.
Leno, meanwhile, said one of the coolest moments of his long tenure was when President Barack Obama came on the show.
“Having the actual president of the United States on the show, that was pretty amazing,” he said.
Watch the full Today segment below.
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