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Late Show Monologue Mayhem: Letterman and Leno Trade Barbs, More React to Fallon's Rise


After a few weeks of late night disses and rumors, the official announcement came Wednesday afternoon that Jay Leno would be retiring from his seat as the host of the "Tonight Show" in February 2014, and Jimmy Fallon would be graduating from "Late Night" to fill his shoes.

In other words, cue the monologues.

Not surprisingly, Leno and Fallon had plenty to say on the matter, as did their counterparts and competition, from Conan O'Brien to Jimmy Kimmel. And, needless to say, David Letterman brought his sharp tongue to the table, even making the Top Ten list "Things We'll Miss About Jay Leno."

"I got a call from my mom today, she said, 'Well, David, I see you didn't get the Tonight Show again.' Didn't we just go through this. Jay Leno is now being replaced, and this is the second time this has happened," the "Late Show" host said. "I mean, it's crazy. He's being replaced by a younger late-night talk show host – what could possibly go wrong?"

"I’ve known Jay Leno for 38 years, thank you. I don’t know what aspect of that you’re applauding, but thank you," he continued. "As with everything in life, all I really care about is how will this affect me? That’s all I really care about. … But good luck to Jay. I know he’ll be out on the road, getting it done and taking care of business and congratulations on a nice long run there at the 'Tonight Show,' if in fact you're not coming back.”

But he couldn't just leave it at that. Wednesday night's Top Ten list? "Things We'll Miss About Jay Leno." The list includes such gems as "He's Mom's favorite talk show host," "If you broke down on the freeway, Jay was always there to help with a camera crew," and "Now I'm the only guy in late-night television who's not a Jimmy." Watch the full list below:

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But that wasn't the end of that fight. Leno managed to get in a solid dig of his own.

"I got to be honest with you, I had a really awkward day today," Leno began. "I had to call David Letterman and tell him he didn't get the 'Tonight Show' again."

Thankfully, he took the high road after that, adding, "I want to congratulate our good friend Jimmy Fallon. He is a hell of a guy. He's going to do a great job. I just have one request for Jimmy: We've all fought, kicked, and scratched to get this network up to 5th place, now we have to keep it there. Jimmy, don't let it slip into 6th. We're counting on you. We're counting on you, Jimmy."

Fallon, for his part, appeared humbled, gracious, and excited. "Today was one of the most exciting days of my life. I read every tweet and every post and I thank you," he tweeted, and his monologue echoed that sentiment.

"We've had kind of a big day around here," he said. "It's a lot more emotional for me than I thought it was going to be … I'm just so excited to just keep working hard and we'll try to make the best show that we can along with you guys. I've gotta say thanks to Jay Leno for being so gracious … It means so much to me to have his support. I just want to thank the fans for staying up to 12:35 and watching us – or 12:37, when we start – at night … We wouldn't be there without you guys and I love you so much. I love you so much and I love this job."

O'Brien, who hosted the "Tonight Show" for a short eight months, four years ago before Leno decided he wanted his job back, kept his comments brief.

"I want to congratulate Jimmy. That is a really fun gig," he said about halfway through his TBS show. "It really is. Jimmy is the perfect guy to do it … He's going to do a fantastic job, so congratulations Jimmy."

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Jimmy Kimmel was just plain confused.

"It is a big one for the world of late-night television," he said in his monologue on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" "As you probably heard – it was announced officially today – that, starting in February of next year – after the Olympics – I will take over as new host of the 'Tonight Show.' I spoke to Jay on the phone today. … Excuse me for one moment. Ummm – apparently it was a different Jimmy. Are you sure? Hold on.

"OK, turns out, I will not be hosting the 'Tonight Show," he continued. "Does anyone know what the return policy is on yachts?"

When he finally put all the pieces together, Kimmel tweeted, "congratulations to my dear, sweet @jimmyfallon - a formidable rival and an incredible lover."

As for Craig Ferguson, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, we're still waiting for their two cents.