It’s official. Jimmy Fallon is having the BEST week ever. Fallon made his suave transition from The Late Night Show to The Tonight Show by bringing it back to its hometown of New York City with a cinematic intro by Spike Lee. His opening night brought in a robust 11.3 million viewers, which is way more than an average season for his predecessor Jay Leno and more than the combined total for his rivals, David Letterman on CBS and Jimmy Kimmel on ABC. Equipped with his nice-guy persona, the king of comedic kindness proves that nice guys can indeed finish first….especially when it comes to ratings and celebrity friends.
Fallon’s appeal is how earnest and energetic he is. Let’s not forget the fact that he’s friends with EVERYBODY. No, seriously everybody including Robert De Niro, Tina Fey, Joe Namath, Rudy Giuliani, Mariah Carey, Tracy Morgan, Kim Kardashian, Seth Rogen, Mike Tyson, Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga, and Stephen Colbert who all came out to show their support in the first fifteen minutes of the first show! He even allowed Joan Rivers on the show, making this the first time she’s appeared since Carson banned her in the late ’80s. This paired with his amazing guest for the week including Will Smith, Michelle Obama , Kirsten Wigg and Will Farrell to name a few, has turned The Tonight Show into a celebrity playground filled with hilarious skits.
Fallon’s 2-minute and 55-second comedy segment from the first episode “Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing” with Will Smith, has racked up almost 7 million views–and counting. What has allowed Fallon to propel his success is his ability to utilize his Saturday Night Live “SNL Digital Shorts” roots, which spawned major breakout clips for social media, allowing audiences to see clips they missed (or want to see again) at any time–and in comedy, timing is everything. Fallon may have taken over the 10:35 p.m. / 11:35 p.m./slot at a moment when the late shift lasts all day.
Fallon opened up his monologue by thanking the previous Tonight Show hosts in puckish chronological order, “Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and Jay Leno.” Hopefully he has the tenacity to continue The Tonight Show legacy and avoid the scandal and scrutiny endured by his predecessors and competitors. If there’s one thing to be said about Jimmy Fallon, it’s that he’s likable. Even when poking fun at someone, Fallon remains neutral – he’s inoffensive enough to be endearing, but quirky enough to be enjoyable. While this was an incredible week for him, we will have to see how he holds up in the weeks, months, and years to follow. Next week, he will no longer have the Olympics to lead him in, and the celebrity playground may start to dwindle as they go back inside from recess. One thing’s for sure, I am definitely staying around to see how this plays. Besides the fact that I expect Fallon to deliver us consistent content, I cannot wait to see Seth Meyers make his debut next week on The Late Night Show. To Lorne Michaels …thank you…for EVERYTHING!