“So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye. If Fallon tanks you’ll be back here next year,” sang Jack Black.
“The Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parson’s contribution: “We’ve watched you when we’re weary. Your great success is called the big chin theory.”
In a videotaped segment, celebrities offered career advice to Leno.
“Why would I give a (expletive) about what he does. He’s a grown man,” said Mark Walberg.
President Barack Obama, like other politicians a favorite target of Leno’s, struck back in his clip.
“Jay, you’ve made a whole lot of jokes about me over the years, but don’t worry, I’m not upset,” Obama said, adding that he was making Leno the U.S. ambassador to Antarctica. “Hope you have a warm coat, funnyman.”
Crystal sang Leno’s praises during the show, saying the late-night host made America feel a little better at bedtime and invoking his predecessor, Johnny Carson. Leno’s “Tonight” tenure was second in length only to Carson’s 30 years.
“You were handed the baton by one of the all-time greats. But once it was in your grasp, you ran the race,” Crystal said. He and Leno, longtime friends, reminisced about the old days, with Leno recalling how Crystal and other comedians visiting his town, Boston, stayed in Leno’s apartment.
“You’re calling it an apartment. I’m calling it a bomb site,” Crystal joked.
Leno told how he was poised to make his network debut on Dean Martin’s show in 1974 when news came that President Richard Nixon had resigned in the Watergate scandal. Leno’s appearance didn’t happen.
“Making me the last guy screwed by Nixon,” Leno said.
Garth Brooks performed his touching song “The Dance” before Leno’s farewell remarks. “Now that I brought the room down,” Leno joked, he asked Brooks to lighten it up.
Another Brooks’ song, “Friends in Low Places,” closed out the show.
Fallon, 39, starts his “Tonight” Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage the next two weeks.
Closing his final show on Thursday, Leno gave a final shoutout. It was to his wife of more than 30 years, Mavis: “I’m coming home, honey!”