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Jimmy Fallon on 10 Years of Hosting ‘The Tonight Show’ (Exclusive)

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Ten down, forever to go! Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday will celebrate 10 years as host of The Tonight Show, and he’s marking the milestone by sitting down with ET for a rETrospective.

The 49-year-old late-night TV host is looking back at some of his most iconic moments in a storied career that began long before he burst onto the national spotlight when he joined Saturday Night Live as a cast member in 1998. ET was right there with him — well before he was discovered — when he performed at the Improv for Mary Hart’s 15th anniversary party.

Fast-forward to now, and Fallon’s become a household name and synonymous with belly laughs. He was named host of The Tonight Show in 2014, and he’s up to the challenge of eclipsing the late Johnny Carson for the longest tenured host of the iconic late-night series.

“Well, this is 10 years. Johnny has 30, so I have 20 more years to go,” Fallon quipped. “I feel pretty good. I still love what I do. I love talking to people. I feel like it’s getting even more fun because I have grown up with these people now, and I have seen them — their highs their lows. I’ve seen bad boyfriends. I’ve seen good boyfriends. I’ve seen them get married and have kids and the kids grow up. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of stuff in the 10 years of The Tonight Show, and I’d love to go on longer and just keep making more memories and making more friends. It’s truly a dream come true.”

Jimmy Fallon posing next to one of his signs.Getty

To commemorate the momentous occasion, Fallon will host a primetime NBC special celebrating his 10th anniversary. In his very first Tonight Show monologue, Fallon recalled being a kid and asking his parents if he could stay up late to watch Carson’s monologue before going to bed. At times, he said he’d slide over to the side so his parents wouldn’t know he was still there, all to catch a glimpse of the first guest.

And here he is now, the face of an iconic NBC franchise.

“I’m very lucky, again, with The Tonight Show. Good things keep happening to the show, and I just want to keep it rolling, keep everyone having fun,” he said. “Our whole goal of the show is to make people laugh and to make people happy, and if I can do it for as long as I can, that’ll be the best thing for me.”

Under his tenure, Fallon’s produced countless unforgettable moments. Like in 2015, when Tom Cruise squared off against Fallon in an epic lip sync battle. Cruise, at the time, picked a current chart-topper for his first selection, getting down in a big way to The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face.”

“I mean, come on. Tom Cruise practiced this for five hours this day,” Fallon recalled. “I wasn’t allowed to go into the studio ’cause he’s such a perfectionist, and I didn’t want to know.”

Jimmy Fallon delivering his monologue on The Tonight Show.Getty

From his memorable Saturday Night Live sketches to landing the role of “camera guy No. 2” on Spin City to meeting his future wife, Nancy Juvonen, and the mother of their two children while filming the 2005 sports romcom Fever Pitch, Fallon was captivated at the fact ET had been there since the very beginning.

“ET has always been there for me my whole career. You were there before I even did anything. I’m honored. That’s a wild trip to memory lane,” he said. “I’m lucky. I’m surrounded by great people, supportive people who make me look good and make me funny, they write great jokes. I have the best staff, the best crew, the best camera operators, the best audio, hair and makeup and wardrobe. It’s endless. I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”

NBC on Tuesday will air a two-hour special at 9 p.m. ET to celebrate Fallon’s 10th anniversary as host of The Tonight Show.

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