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‘The Tonight Show’ Host Jimmy Fallon Celebrates 10 Years – Laugh Along With 10 Memorable Bits

NBC celebrates the comic with a prime time special, and we’ve got more LOLs right here!

spinner image Jimmy Fallon with Will Ferrell, Mariah Carey, Kristen Wiig and Michelle Obama in various sketches on The Tonight Show
Photo Collage: AARP; (Source: Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images (3); Randy Holmes via Getty Images; Douglas Gorenstein/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)

For all of us who cut our late-night TV habits watching The Tonight Show, it’s been fascinating to witness the evolution from Johnny Carson to Jimmy Fallon, who celebrated a decade as the host of the hallmark NBC show (after a stint on Late Night). The comedian has been a fixture on the network since joining Saturday Night Live in 1998, and NBC is celebrating his first 10 years as the Tonight Show host with a two-hour prime time “best of” special on May 14 at 9 p.m. Get ready for all the fun with our roundup of Fallon’s finest hosting moments from Late Night and The Tonight Show.

Jimmy, the Roots and Mariah Carey perform “All I Want for Christmas Is You” with classroom instruments (2012)

Don’t tell Paul Shaffer, 74, but Jimmy Fallon is blessed with perhaps the best house band in late-night history: Philly hip-hop legends The Roots. In 2012, Fallon and the crew launched a new recurring series — similar to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts — in which they joined Carly Rae Jepsen to perform her catchy single “Call Me Maybe,” accompanied by classroom instruments like triangles, toy xylophones, kazoos and ukuleles. Over the years, they’ve teamed up with everyone from Adele and Madonna, 65, to Ringo Starr, 83, Metallica and even the Muppets. But the form may have reached its peak in December 2012 when Mariah Carey, 55, belted out her holiday megahit alongside Jimmy, the sweater-clad band and a quartet of precocious kids in front of a roaring (fake) fire.

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Emma Stone destroys Jimmy in a high-stakes lip sync battle (2014)

Fallon faced off against future two-time-Oscar-winner Emma Stone in a lip sync battle segment, in which she tackled Blues Traveler’s “Hook” and DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” — two excellent choices if you want to show off a preternatural dexterity around lightning-fast lyrics and rap verses. The audience screamed along, and Jimmy knew he was toast, but he looked positively giddy as she hammed it up. When she finished, he shouted, “Come on! That was the best one that’s ever been done on the show!”

The Jimmys switch places for April Fools’ Day (2022)

A defining part of this era of late-night shows is that the hosts all seem to genuinely like each other, with a cross-network camaraderie replacing decades of fierce competition and animosity. Last year, Fallon partnered with Jimmy Kimmel, 56, Seth Meyers, 50, John Oliver and Stephen Colbert, 60, for a podcast called Strike Force Five to support their out-of-work staff during the writers strike. But it wasn’t the first time they had worked together: In April 2022, Fallon and Kimmel pulled off an elaborate prank in which they showed up at each others’ studios across the country and surprised the live audiences. “Hi, I’m Jimmy,” Fallon said as the crowd went wild. “Please, please, settle down, you’re gonna offend the other Jimmy!”

The Saved by the Bell cast reunites (2015)

Timed to the 2015 Super Bowl, Fallon brought The Tonight Show back to Los Angeles, its home for more than 40 years. During a week of tapings, he parodied the opening of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and played an all-star game of Password with Ellen DeGeneres, 66, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, 61. But that trip is best remembered by millennials as the time when he reunited much of the cast of Saved by the Bell for a sketch about his teen years at Bayside High in the ’90s. Joining Fallon were Mark-Paul Gosselaar, 50, as Zack, Tiffani Thiessen, 50, as Kelly, Mario Lopez, 50, as Slater, Elizabeth Berkley as Jesse and Dennis Haskins, 73, as Principal Belding, and the segment was such a success that it indirectly led to a reboot at Peacock.

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President Barack Obama “Slow Jam the News” (2016)

Fallon and the 44th president first teamed up for a “Slow Jam the News” segment in 2012, during a taping on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The premise: Obama, 62, touted his accomplishments as the host delivered innuendo-filled summaries in a sultry voice over a beat by The Roots. The president returned in summer 2016 for a victory lap after eight years in office, with Fallon calling him “Commander in Preach” and “my man Bareezus.” Over the years, Fallon has recruited a surprising array of politicians from both sides of the aisle for the segment, including Vice President Kamala Harris, 59, Senator Bernie Sanders, 82, and Senator Mitt Romney, 77.

First Lady Michelle Obama joins Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell on “Ew!” (2014)

Barack wasn’t the only member of the Obama family to light up the Tonight Show stage: The First Lady, 60, was another frequent guest who racked up a slew of memorable moments, including “Evolution of Mom Dancing” (parts 1 and 2) and segments in which she surprised fans in a bookstore and the 30 Rock elevators. But she really got to flex her acting muscles in a skit called “Ew!” alongside Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell, 56, as teenage girls hosting a chat show in their basement. As part of her “Let’s Move” initiative, she promotes healthy eating and exercise but she also dances and takes part in a “shy face off” and gives a “triple hand hug” — which you’ll have to see to understand.

Ariana Grande slays the Wheel of Musical Impressions (2015)

Fallon has always loved a good game-show format, and he challenges his most musically gifted guests to a singing competition called the Wheel of Musical Impressions, in which they generate the name of a celebrity and a random song. Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato, Jamie Foxx, 56, and Adam Levine have all tackled the wheel, but the gold standard might be Ariana Grande, who showed off her amazing range channeling Christina Aguilera on “The Wheels on the Bus,” Celine Dion on “Can’t Feel My Face” and Britney Spears on “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

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Jimmy learns he maybe went on a bad date with Nicole Kidman years earlier (2015)

During an appearance in 2015 to promote Paddington, the Aussie Oscar winner dropped a bombshell: She and Jimmy had gone on a failed “date” years before, when she dropped by his apartment with a mutual friend. “So I go over there, and you’re there in a baseball cap and nothing, and you wouldn’t talk,” Kidman, 56, recounts. “You didn’t say anything. And then you put a video game on or something, and I’m like, ‘This is so bad.’ And you didn’t talk at all. So after about an hour and a half I thought, ‘He has no interest, this is so embarrassing.’ And I left and went, ‘OK, no chemistry,’ and then I was like, ‘Maybe he’s gay.’ ” Fallon was visibly embarrassed and blushing, causing the audience to erupt in laughter. “I am in shock right now,” he said. “I can’t believe I dated Nicole Kidman. This is fantastic.”

Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrell fight over who has the tightest pants (2012)

Fallon called on his old SNL castmate Will Ferrell for this absurd, ’60s-inspired musical number in which two guys in skin-tight white pants and bowl-cut wigs argue about who has the tighter pants. It launched such Ferrellian catchphrases as “Don’t wake the snake — hiss!” and “You drinking my sake, Kemosabe?” and a recurring series of similar musical numbers starring the likes of Jennifer Lopez, 54, and Christina Aguilera.

Jimmy interviews Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones (2015)

Another SNL all-star, Kristen Wiig, 50, donned a long platinum wig and a toy dragon on her shoulder for this in-character interview with Game of Thrones warrior-princess Daenerys Targaryen. Fallon and Wiig got to show off their improv skills, and she seems so tickled by the wacky things coming out of her own mouth (the dragon’s name? Carl) that she couldn’t help but laugh at her own jokes. At other times over the years, Wiig appeared in the guest chair as JoJo from The Bachelorette and even Michael Jordan.

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