The 43-year-old presenter fronted the show for the first time since Gloria Fallon died from undisclosed causes on November 4, and Jimmy began by explaining that he had been absent from TV because he’s been spending time with family, before he shared a childhood story.
Of his beloved mother – who died at the age of 68 – a visibly emotional Jimmy said: “She was the best audience, she was the one I was always trying to make laugh. She was such a fan of the show and everything I did.”
The American star also explained how one of his most cherished childhood memories convinced him that his mother was in “trouble” when he visited her in hospital.
He recalled: “When we were little, my mom would walk us to the store – me and my sister – and we would hold hands. And she would squeeze my hand three times and say, ‘I love you,’ and I would squeeze back, ‘I love you too.’
“Last week I was in the hospital, at her side, and I grabbed her hand and I squeezed ‘I love you,’ and I just knew we were in trouble.”
Jimmy subsequently thanked his fans for the support they’ve shown him since the passing of his mother.
But he concluded the segment by speaking directly to his mother.
Jimmy – whose comeback show also featured a surprise performance from Taylor Swift – said: “Mom, I’ll never stop trying to make you laugh.”
During his recent absence, Questlove – the frontman for ‘The Tonight Show’s house band, The Roots – promised to support Jimmy through his personal grief.
The 46-year-old star said: “We’re in showbusiness. And the show must go on. Where he leads, we’ll follow.”