Review by C.J. Bunce
One hundred and twenty episodes in of his first year at the helm of The Tonight Show and somehow we managed to fail to mention Jimmy Fallon’s incredible big year here in our ongoing quest for the best in entertainment. We’ve watched Fallon since his days on Saturday Night Live and figured we’d give him a try as he took over for Jay Leno. We gave the same college try to Conan O’Brien when he started out on his TBS gig, but that show quickly fizzled out. Fallon hit the ground running, taking comedic bits from his Late Night hosting stint and expanding them into the weightier format of the classic king spot of nightly live comedy. And we haven’t laughed out loud this much in a year in a long time.
Go back and watch David Letterman, Leno or Johnny Carson late show episodes on YouTube and you’ll quickly ask yourself why we thought those guys were so funny. We’re saying this after years of enjoying the best of The Tonight Show for decades. Fallon’s sincere, boy-next-door-makes-good, and unapologetic fanboy image was a perfect choice for this show, and his use of social media incorporated into his weekly line-up makes the show potentially appealing to every demographic.
Credit goes to Fallon, of course, but also his great writing staff that comes up with all this fun, as well as The Roots, the complicit house band (probably the coolest band ever to appear on a regular TV gig), and Fallon’s own Ed McMahon, the quick-witted banter partner, Des Moines native Steve Higgins.
Recurring bits include Fallon’s obsession with Canadian politician Rob Ford, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Vice President Joe Biden, the Eww girl, and a would-be one-time stint dancing bear that became the out-of-breath show mascot Hashtag the Panda. Fallon’s “Pros and Cons,” “Thank You Notes,” and “Hashtags” are now locked into the national weekly calendar. Fallon also gets the best A-list celebrities around on his show on a regular basis, and even entices many to play crazy party games and lip sync battles or act in skits like you’d see on the best days of Saturday Night Live.