Published February 16. 2014 4:00AM Updated February 16. 2014 7:05PM
It wasn't so much "goodbye" as "taking a break."
With Jimmy Fallon's departure from "Late Night" on Feb. 7 after five years in the host chair, he'll be off the NBC airwaves a scant 10 days before bouncing back as host of "The Tonight Show," which was vacated last Thursday by Jay Leno after 22 years.
"I'm really going to miss being on TV at 12:37," Fallon joked in his farewell monologue, where his "fierce rivals" have been CBS host Craig Ferguson "and a Veggie-Chopper infomercial."
But if he was overjoyed at graduating to a berth one hour earlier - and all through the finale he radiated joy - at the same time he could hardly keep his tear ducts in check.
"I'm not gonna cry," he vowed, "but I'm gonna get really close."
The 39-year-old Fallon has promised that nothing much will change with his talk-comedy-music formula, except the new time slot and "Tonight Show" prestige.
But if it's not so big a change for Fallon (or his house band, the Roots, or his announcer, Steve Higgins, who all are coming along), it's a big change for "Tonight," which is returning to New York's Rockefeller Plaza after more than 40 years in Los Angeles, and returning to NBC's Studio 6B, once inhabited by "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."
To complete this game of musical chairs, "SNL" grad Seth Meyers becomes "Late Night" host starting Feb. 24.
"We're gonna be a great team back-to-back," Fallon said.
During his final monologue, Fallon got nostalgic, with a dash of comedy. He said since premiering in March 2009, he had spun out 10,000 jokes, all of which he proceeded to sum up as: "Joe Biden needed Obamacare after Anthony Weiner texted Justin Bieber a picture of Chris Christie dating a Kardashian on the Jersey shore with Rob Ford."
Fallon recently announced that Will Smith will appear on the Feb. 17 debut of "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." U2 will perform, as well. Justin Timberlake will close out the week, which will also include appearances by first lady Michelle Obama, Will Ferrell, Bradley Cooper, Kristen Wiig and Jerry Seinfeld.
Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire and Tim McGraw also will perform during the week.
The first four episodes of Fallon's new show will air at midnight following the Sochi Winter Olympics. Its regular time slot is 11:35 p.m. Eastern.
Meyers' "Late Night" show debuts Feb. 24.