Fallon made the announcement at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, where earlier Sunday NBC announced that Jay Leno’s last “Tonight Show” guests will be Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks.
Fallon said he tried to land U2 before, but that they had already committed to a week of performances on “Late Night With David Letterman.”
Fallon said he told Leno years ago, when Leno and Conan O’Brien clashed over the show, that he wasn’t after the job. He said that since then, he has talked often with Leno, and that Leno finally told him it was his year to take over.
He also said Leno gave him some very practical advice: make your monologue longer. Fallon’s is sometimes just three-and-a-half minutes. Leno’s sometimes lasts ten.
“He said a lot of people work all day, they work two jobs, and they don’t get around to seeing the news,” Fallon said. “They go to you for the news.”
Fallon said he had an a-ha moment — because he himself grew up getting the news from “Weekend Update” on “Saturday Night Live,” before he became a co-anchor of the segment with Tina Fey.
Realizing he was addressing a room filled with reporters, he jokingly apologized.
Fallon was also asked about the influence Johnny Carson had on him. He said he also remembered watching Carson growing up, and that he was such an institution that “I just thought he kind of came with the TV.”
Fallon expressed awe at the idea that a kid might now ask his parents if he can stay up and watch “Tonight,” just as he did.
“We’ve already signed a deal with that kid” he added, predicting that the kid would one day replace him.