First, let me state that I have never truly been a fan of Jimmy Fallon’s work until a few months ago. He usually came off to me as childish and overaggressive with celebrities. This is a new love for me. When he was given the reins to the Tonight Show(authorities are currently blocking Jay Leno from entering the building to retake the show) I didn’t give it much thought and figured it was all relative inside the NBC family. However, after reading up on Fallon and how much he has worked for the position and how cool and down to earth of a guy he is, I took a chance and watched his show last night.
It was very seamless. He hit the stage and immediately took off the shiny armor that hosts usually carry to their grave. He talked about growing up in New York, filming the intro sequence with Spike Lee, pointed at his parents in the audience, and revealed that he was over the mountain in affection for his 6 month old girl. Fallon stripped away everything before getting into the meat of the show. It involved dancing with Will Smith, talking to him about skydiving and having U2 perform a song on the roof of the Rockefeller Center(where the show is hosted) and on the couch next to him to end the show. For you Bono and U2 haters, the man and the band have still got it and he can sing effortlessly in any setting. Great show. Fallon talked about bringing the show back to New York and “hosting a show once hosted by Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’ Brien and Jay Leno”. Fallon doesn’t laugh at all his jokes and I thank him for that.
Here is the reason I am going to watch Fallon. He is fresh and starting something new here. He seems more confident and has grown up while hosting the Late Show after Conan’s departure 4 years ago. Elsewhere, David Letterman has lost a lot of steam on his fastball and seems bored. Leno was just bland so I am glad he is gone. I’ll always have a soft spot for Conan but he doesn’t get the guest lists he used to due to his battle with Leno. I like Conan and still watch on occasion but he has reduced himself to severe self-deprecation. Craig Ferguson is a hoot but also doesn’t get the guest lists and has a ridiculously long monologue. Jimmy Kimmel is decent as well and has wild segments and guests but for some reason he isn’t a guy I look forward to. He needs to do more stand up comedy. At this point in time, Fallon is fresh and I tying my boat to his cruise ship.
Here are a few other reasons I am going with Jimmy-
*He doesn’t mind letting his guard down with his guests. Part of the reason I like Fallon lately is he can be vulnerable and nervous with the guests. He isn’t surly and boring. He doesn’t rely on cheap tactics to get a good segment. He has a deep set of comedic skills(from his SNL days) and puts them to use.
*He can dance and shows it well with Justin Timberlake and last night with Smith. He doesn’t mind making an ass of himself. Being able to relate is one thing. Being constantly self deprecating isn’t a noble goal but Fallon mixes it up pretty well. And he can dance.
*He is credibly goofy. Long term goofball. It isn’t an act. It is who Fallon is and it took me a while to get that part of his persona. If you watch his work in film and other shows, you simply get a dose of the goofiness that he exudes every time he is on television. With the other hosts hitting it too hard or making fun of everything but themselves, Fallon is legit goofy.
*He is a huge Dave Matthews Band fan and always has them on his show. Small little plus for the big guy here when DMB tours this summer.
*During the Leno-Conan feud, Fallon didn’t try to boost his ratings by taking a shot at either. He took over for Conan and was going to be in the running for Leno’s spot but he still could have taken a cheap shot. He didn’t do it for the whole year. Props to him on that.
*As I stated earlier, Fallon busted his ass to get here. He did his time with SNL, took over the Late Night Show and waited until Leno was ready to leave. He put in his dues with NBC and earned the spot. He’s a versatile guy and one who truly loves what he does for a living and doesn’t make it a gimmick.
*I love his arm wrestling segments with macho movie stars. His bouts with Jason Statham and Hugh Jackman were just hilarious. They arm wrestle while telling each other what they will do if they win. Statham’s winning plan, “I am going to legally change my name to DICK LONGFLOP”! Fallon to Jackman during their bout, “I am going to change my name to Jack Hughman”.
*His band happens to be the supremely talented group, The Roots. A collection of jazzy blues R&B musicians who bring it every night. That doesn’t hurt.
Jimmy Fallon isn’t the best host on the late night circuit, but right now he is the freshest dose of show hosting swagger and I will tag along for the ride. With him, you feel like you are a part of something and not just watching a bunch of deadbeats go through the motions. Last night, a long line of celebs came out to his desk to hand him a 100 dollar bill after Fallon called out one legendary Oscar winning actor on a long time bet he had won. Joan Rivers was one of them, the lady who got kicked off and banned from Carson’s show. Mike Tyson, Tina Fey, Seth Rogen, Lady Gaga and others came out. On other shows, it may not have worked. Last night, on this show, it did work very well.
Will Smith told Fallon he made it here because of the heart he puts into the show every night. After years of not giving him the time of day, I did my homework and can tell you this right now. Jimmy Fallon is worth watching on The Tonight Show.
My next investigation will be Bruno Mars’ music!!!! Wish me luck.
Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for my take on The Michael Sam situation. Sure, it’s a week old but sometimes I like to give my takes after the vultures and waves have rolled in and out. Later in the week, I will post my True Detective TV Spotlight.