Billy Crystal gets in a few digs at Leno and leads an all-star musical tribute to Leno’s “Tonight Show” legacy
Billy Crystal appeared as a guest on Jay Leno’s first show as “The Tonight Show” host in 1992, and Thursday night he closed the circle by appearing on Leno’s final episode as “Tonight Show” host.
Crystal opened his appearance by offering a few wisecracks about Leno, one of them being about the late-night host’s lack of wardrobe diversity.
“‘The Tonight Show,’ for me, began with Jay on May 25th, 1992,” Crystal joked. “So now, 22 years later, 160,000 jokes, three band leaders, and two dark suits later, here we are.”
Characterizing Leno as “America’s nightlight” during his run on “The Tonight Show,” Crystal ran through some of the pop-culture moments that Leno offered his take on to the country. One reference took aim at a certain “Baby”-faced singer turned bad boy.
“When it was announced recently that America’s No. 1 domestic terrorist had been captured, who told us it was Justin Bieber? You did,” Crystal cracked.
Later, the comedian vowed that he was appearing on Leno’s final “Tonight Show” episode purely out of loyalty, not for self-promotional purposes — only to launch into a bout of shameless self-promotion.
“And you know, I’m here just out of pure friendship. And I was told you called. I’m not here to plug anything,” Crystal told Leno. “I mean, I could easily plug my book, ‘Still Foolin’ ‘Em,’ coming out in paperback in April, great for Father’s Day. But I won’t. I won’t do that. Or mention that ‘700 Sundays’ will be on HBO April 19th. I’m not going to do any of that.”
As a finale, Crystal led an all-star cast including Sheryl Crow, Kim Kardashian, “Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons and Oprah Winfrey — collectively dubbed the Shut Your Von Trapp Family Singers — through a musical tribute to Leno’s “Tonight Show” legacy, to the tune of the “Sound of Music” chestnut “So Long, Farewell.”
Winfrey shot off a particularly good line, going double-meta to reference both both Leno’s love of cars and her own iconic “You get a car!” moment.
“So long, farewell, you really raised the bar,” Winfrey offered. “If you were me, you’d buy them all a car.”
Watch clips from Crystal’s “Tonight Show” appearance below.