Changing of the guard
Jimmy Fallon takes over ‘The Tonight Show’
| Jay Benedict reporter |
As Jerry Seinfeld put it on Tuesday night, “The Tonight Show” is a “pope job.” You stay with it until you decide to quit or you die. At 39, Jimmy Fallon becomes the youngest host on early late-night TV and holds the potential for decades of his brand of comedy.
The premiere included a steady stream of celebrity cameos and big-name guests, such as Robert De Niro, Tina Fey, Joe Namath, Rudy Giuliani, Mariah Carey, Tracy Morgan, Joan Rivers, one of the Kardashians, Seth Rogen, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mike Tyson, Lady Gaga, and Stephen Colbert.
The show began with Fallon coming out and introducing himself to his new audience. His introduction was endearing, because he expressed his humility and joked about the drama that has surrounded “The Tonight Show” over the last few years, with Jay Leno leaving, Conan O’Brien taking over and then Leno coming back.
“I’ll be your host…for now,” Fallon said. “I’d like to thank my predecessors: Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien…and Jay Leno.”
Following the intro, the show fell into the usual late-night formula of monologue, bits, guests and music, with Fallon’s personality added to it all.
Fallon brought his show band, The Roots, with him from his last show. He also participated in several of the performances.
This is where Fallon differentiates himself from other late-night hosts. Fallon’s impressions and song parodies are what got him his part on “Saturday Night Live” in 1999, and he continues to do them.
However, it’s Fallon’s “jack-of-all-trades” abilities that help him bring in an audience. He can do everything that is asked of him, but he is a master of comedy.
Fallon laughs when things are funny, just like the audience does. He cracked up while talking about the Olympics with Jerry Seinfeld and when Kristen Wiig spent her entire interview in character as One Direction’s Harry Styles.
Fallon’s debut is the highest rated show for late-night since O’Brien’s finale and Leno’s first departure. Fallon drew 11.3 million people in the coveted 18-49 demographic, which is a 74-percent increase from his previous time slot.
He was a fresh face when he came to SNL. He killed it on that show because he changed things up, could do a ton of different things and wasn’t outwardly concerned with the consequences of any of his actions.
Fallon displays what he brought from SNL in late-night prime-time, and it pays off. He can do what he wants, when he wants. He ushers in a new era of late-night comedy because of his abilities and his charisma. Watch the new Tonight Show. You won’t be disappointed.