Jay Leno delivered his “Tonight Show” monologue Monday wearing a mustache — the price he had to pay for losing a bet Friday night to Jimmy Fallon.
The two NBC late-night stars made the wager over a single round of “leprechaun bowling” on “The Tonight Show,” for which Fallon flew in from New York to be Jay’s guest. Created to mark St. Patrick’s Day (which fell on Saturday), leprechaun bowling involved rolling a cabbage down a bowling lane toward 10 “leprechaun” garden gnomes that were set up like bowling pins.
Leno lost the one-round contest and had to wear the mustache during this monologue on Monday night’s “Tonight Show.” The other thing he had to do: He had to refrain from mentioning the mustache at all during the monologue.
So there he was, delivering his usual monologue while wearing a mustache that he was not allowed to explain. It was a little jarring to see, particularly if you hadn’t heard about the Fallon-Leno wager and weren’t prepared to see Leno with a mustache. We also sensed that the mustache threw Jay off a bit. He seemed conscious of this fake mustache right under his nose, and to us, his timing seemed off, at least a little. In addition, a lightbulb exploded somewhere in the studio during one joke — which only added to the uniqueness of this Monday monologue.
When the show returned from a break for Jay’s customary “Headlines” segment, he was then allowed to make reference to the mustache. First, it was the subject of the fake front-page headlines that usher in the “Headlines” bit every Monday. “Leno loses bet, forced to wear fake mustache during monologue,” read one of them. “Leno mustache actually his own flowing nosehairs,” said another.
Then Jay finally mentioned the mustache, and also took it off.