Tonight Show With Jay Leno

Jay Leno's 4 landmark segments on 'Tonight Show'

April 3, 2013 at 6:37 PM ET

Paul Drinkwater / NBC /
"The Tonight Show" became the first late-night show to host a sitting president in 2009 when Barack Obama was Jay Leno's guest.

There's something to be said about leaving while you're at the top of your game.

As "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno prepares to hand the reins of the show to Jimmy Fallon in 2014, the program is sitting at the top of the late-night ratings.

“We are purposefully making this change when Jay is No. 1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was No. 1," said Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBCUniversal. "Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time.  I’m thrilled he will become the sixth host of ‘The Tonight Show’ at exactly the right moment, in conjunction with our coverage of next year's Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia.”

Burke said Leno’s 22-year reign “is a testament to his work ethic and dedication to his viewers and to NBC.” That, of course, includes the many good laughs and fine times the comedian has delivered on "Tonight Show" over the years.

Here are Leno's top four ongoing segments and memorable moments: 

'Headlines'

Few things were funnier each night than his look at faux pas in the newspapers across the country. Wedding announcements that celebrate nuptials such as the "Bunn-Fullilove" union? Yes, please!

'Jaywalking'

Leno loved taking to the streets and stumping the common folk with difficult questions about common phrases. A bird in the hand is worth how much? Hint: Not a million.

 

Saving careers

Leno and "The Tonight Show" were struggling a bit in the ratings after he took over in May 1992, but the comedian not only revived his own late-night talk-show gig in 1995, but saved then-fumbling British actor Hugh Grant's career in the process. On July 10, the actor came on the show less than two weeks after getting caught with a prostitute. Leno jumped in with the now famous question, “What the hell were you thinking?” It marked the first time that Leno beat David Letterman's "Late Show" in the ratings.

Presidential moment

"The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" made history in 2009 when it became the first late-night talk show to host a sitting president. Leno welcomed Barack Obama on March 19, when the president chatted about his economic plan. 

Did we miss your favorite "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" moment? Tell us what it is on our Facebook page!

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