Rivers was a frequent guest and, from 1983-86, the permanent substitute host for whenever Johnny Carson took a breather or vacation. Then, she accepted a job hosting her own late night show for Fox, and while it didn’t stay on the air long, the move so angered Carson that he banned her from returning to his program. Jay Leno continued the blacklisting when he took over the show in 1992.
With a new generation taking over the show, Rivers, now 80, was finally allowed to return. Her first appearance was technically on Fallon’s opening night, but that was just as part of a celebrity-laden sketch. On Thursday, she sat in with the new host for a whole seven minute segment, and it was like she never left.
Perhaps she was saving up jokes for 26 years, or maybe just crafted a whole set in the weeks leading up to her appearance, but regardless of how she prepared, Rivers was certainly on point. There were jokes about the Holocaust — within 20 seconds of appearing! — as well as plenty of cracks about her vagina… all of which made a laughing Fallon a bit uncomfortable.
Rivers also spoke about her long ban and efforts to get back on NBC, while also giving praise for Carson helping launch her career in the first place.