After his mother Gloria Fallon passed away on November 4, Jimmy Fallon took a few days off from hosting The Tonight Show. The affable star returned to his post on November 13, and started the show with an emotional tribute to the woman who raised him.
"As some of you know, my mother Gloria passed away recently and I canceled our shows last week to be with my family and make arrangements," Fallon began. "[My mom] was the best audience; she was the one I was trying to make laugh, and she was such a fan of the show and everything I did."
As he began to tear up, Fallon shared a sweet childhood memory of his mom. "When we were little, my mom would walk [me and my sister] to the store, and we would hold hands," Fallon shared. "[My mom] would squeeze my hand three times, and say I love you. And I would squeeze back and say I love you, too. Last week I was in the hospital, and I squeezed her hand I love you. I just knew we were in trouble."
The host went on to thank fans for the support they'd shown to his family over the last difficult week, and pledged to keep making people laugh. "We're going to work really hard to bring some light and some laughter into the world," he said. "Mom, I'll never stop trying to make you laugh." Watch Fallon's emotional tribute, below.
Later in the evening, The Tonight Show's writer and producer Mike DiCenzo tweeted a thread to explain the backstory of the November 13 episode. Taylor Swift was the surprise musical guest, and appeared on the show on a whim because "she wanted to do something special for [Jimmy's] first show back." Swift sang her new song "New Year's Day," and DiCenzo noted that the emotional lyrics were perfectly fitting for the evening.
Watch Swift's performance here:
The producer also noted that The Tonight Show staff left an extra minute at the end of the episode for Fallon to high-five guests as the credits rolled. "It was Gloria's favorite part of the show," he noted.