After more than a year of roughing it at home or in a smaller studio with no live audience, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” is back to some semblance of normal.
The show returned to Studio 6B on Monday and brought back a live audience (at partial capacity, of course.)
At the beginning of the episode, Fallon, dressed in a suit and tie, welcomed everyone back to the studio and took a few moments to soak it all in.
“I’ve never been so excited to do a show for 15 people in my entire life,” he joked. “After last year, this is like performing at a sold-out Madison Square Garden.”
Fallon clarified that everyone attending was “fully masked, fully vaccinated and fully skipping work.”
He added that for the first week back in the studio, the audience would be made up of first responders and health care workers and thanked them for their hard work over the past year.
The Roots returned to their original location on stage right and Fallon’s longtime announcer, Steve Higgins, was also back at his usual perch near Fallon’s desk.
“I’m so happy to be back. It feels fantastic,” Higgins said after the monologue. “It feels oddly normal.”
One of Fallon's guests, Andy Cohen, noted that there were "only" 58 people in the audience but it still felt like a lot to him.
"It's still more than double the size of my normal audience," Cohen, who hosts "Watch What Happens Live" on Bravo, quipped. "This is certainly the most people I've seen in over a year. This is great."
Vanity Fair has previously reported the studio has a capacity of about 240 seats.
After taping the show, Fallon posted a few pictures to Twitter to show how thankful he was to be back.
“I can’t describe the feeling of performing in front of a live audience,” he wrote. “We work well together. I missed it so much. Thank you.”
At the beginning of the pandemic last year, Fallon began taping abridged versions of his talk show from home with the help of his family before becoming the first late night host to return to the studio in July. The show resumed studio production in nearby Studio 6A, with the set modified to look more like the interior of Fallon’s home, and without an audience.
Prior to the pandemic, Studio 6A had hosted TODAY with Hoda & Jenna on Thursdays and Fridays with a live audience.
On Friday, Fallon opened the show from his daughters' at-home pod school in honor of one-year anniversary of the pandemic.