The Tonight Show Welcomes Jimmy Fallon
By Laura Mooney, Arts Editor
For a man known for laughing in every Saturday Night Live sketch he has ever been in, Jimmy Fallon has admittedly made quite the name for himself, and on 17 February 2014 he was officially welcomed as the host of The Tonight Show. Taking over for Jay Leno, who had previously hosted for 22 years, the SNL alumni showed the world that although he had moved from the popular Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, to admittedly a much more prestigious show, Fallon was still bringing his unique brand of humour and own personal flare to his new television home.
Fallon opened the show in typical late night television form. He told some self-deprecating jokes, gave the audience a bit of his backstory, and then jokingly said that his buddy “who knew who they were” now owed him $100 for never believing Fallon would host The Tonight Show. While the audience chuckled at the joke, a sheepish Tina Fey crept out from the side stage curtain, while the crowd erupted into raucous applause and laughter, and placed a $100 bill on Fallon’s desk. But the joke did not end there. Out from behind the curtain stepped Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mike Tyson, Stephen Colbert, and even Kim Kardashian, each rolling their eyes in mock disdain. All of this occurred with the initial ten minutes of the show, and before Fallon even had his first guest out. Viewers and producers alike knew then that they were looking at the next great Tonight Show host.
Fallon’s humour was not the only thing that was brought over from his previous gig on Late Night. Fallon’s much beloved band The Roots, as well as his ever-trusty sidekick Steve Higgins who had accompanied Fallon during his time on Late Night, became a pivotal part of Fallon’s act, and had also made connections with their viewing audience, who followed them. While it was unknown for a period of time whether or not Fallon would be able to bring his cohorts over to The Tonight Show, fans were overjoyed to see the familiar faces yet again alongside Jimmy Fallon.
The show continued with Fallon and his first guest, Will Smith, performing a spoof of the popular viral video “The Evolution of Dance” with their own version entitled “The Evolution of Hip- Hop” in which Fallon and Smith danced their way through some of the world’s most popular hip- hop moves such as the “make it rain” all the way to the lesser known moves like “pick up all that money because that’s all you had.” The sketch was funny, and proved that The Tonight Show would be the same old Fallon, just with a different name.
In perhaps the most touching and real moment of the show, Fallon finished interviewing Will Smith and sat with the first musical guest of the season, U2. Instead of the typical stage performance, the members of U2 remained seated on the sofas, and performed a semi-acoustic rendition of their Oscar nominated song “Ordinary Love,” the perfect intimate end to the beginning of Fallon’s new era.
So while Jay Leno was an icon and will always be remembered for his time on The Tonight Show, Fallon is a welcome change to a fairly steady late night model, and is sure to bring in more comedy and heart than any late night program in recent years, and will prove to the world that he is called “the Johnny Carson of this generation” for a reason.