Jimmy Fallon Chokes Up as He Remembers Joan Rivers: 5 Late-Night Tributes

Jimmy Fallon and Joan Rivers
Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, and more late-night hosts remembered Joan Rivers on Thursday, Sept. 4 -- watch five highlights here! Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Late-night loved Joan! Joan Rivers, who frequented late-night television programs throughout her long comedy career — and even briefly hosted a show of her own in the 1980s — was the highlight of these programs on Thursday, Sept. 4. Along with Jimmy Kimmel, hosts Jimmy Fallon, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, Seth Meyers, and Craig Ferguson each said farewell to the late comedienne, who died at age 81 on Thursday afternoon.

Below, Us Weekly rounds up five highlights from late-night TV.

1. Jimmy Fallon

"It's unbelievable when you see her work ethic," Fallon said of the former Tonight Show guest host. "She had a file cabinet full of jokes!" (Rivers was Johnny Carson's regular guest host from 1983 until 1986, when they had a well-documented falling-out with her mentor. She was banned from the program until February 2014, when she appeared on Fallon's very first episode as host.)

Fallon got emotional as he remembered how Rivers gave him a kiss during his inaugural episode. "It was really emotional and really nice," Fallon said. "I don't want to show a clip, because I don't think it will do her justice… We loved her. We will definitely miss her."

2. David Letterman

Equally reverential was Letterman, who remembered Rivers' "overpowering" comedic chops. "Talk about guts," Letterman said on The Late Show. "She would come out here and sit in this chair and say some things that were unbelievable."

Rivers' final appearance on Letterman's program was in July, after she abruptly ended a confrontational interview with CNN. Joking about the incident, Letterman turned the tables when Rivers sat down with him on The Late Show.

3. Conan O'Brien

Former Tonight Show host O'Brien also remembered Rivers from when he was a kid. "I would watch Johnny Carson," the Conan host said. "Carson would occasionally take some time off… and when [Joan Rivers filled in for him], it was an event. Everybody in the country would talk about it the next day." He recalled how viewers would "gather in the living room" and "howl with laughter" when Rivers hosted. "At that time, she was so, so outrageous, and her comedy felt so out of the bounds. People were just blown away."

O'Brien's guest Chris Hardwick also shared a special memory of the late comedienne. "I actually got to be friends with Joan, whom I adored," Hardwick revealed. "I would get a call from her every once in a while. I would get a message like, 'Chris, it's Joan! I want to know about the Internet.' Which is one of the reasons I think she was relevant for six decades. She wanted to know how everything worked and how people were communicating… I've been heartbroken about it all day."

4. Seth Meyers

The Late Night with Seth Meyers host mourned the passing of Rivers by remembering her last appearance on his show this past August. "We just wanted to take a moment to remember how much we missed her," Meyers said. "I have not sat next to anyone who told more jokes faster than Joan Rivers did when she was here."

He also remembered Rivers' impressive career. "She wrote every day, and to write every day for that long is just so impressive to me," the 2014 Emmys host said. "[She was] the nicest person in the world when I got to talk to her backstage. I wish she were here right now."

5. Craig Ferguson

Late Late Show host Ferguson recalled Rivers as "one of the all-time greats" on his program Thursday evening. "Yes, I know. It's terribly sad," he said. "I Just hope that when Joan meets the man upstairs, he is wearing something she can insult."

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