Legions of Lenoites had their nightly routine shaken up last night when a regular-sized chin took the stage of The Tonight Show. It was Jimmy Fallon's first night as host of the late-night legacy and to ease the transition from Jay to Jimmy, from old to young, from very white guy to white guy, Fallon spent several minutes introducing himself, promising never to murder us, and I think he maybe asked our daughters to prom? It was a very thorough nervous nice-guy act, basically. Fallon ran through his vital stats (he's 39 years old, he lives in New York City, he has a wife and a kid, he has never been involved in a Satanic ritual) and played up the ridiculous idea that The Tonight Show's viewers had never heard of him. He even felt compelled to introduce us to his parents! Whoa! Moving fast, Jimmy! But that's what this opening was: Fallon's reassurance to Leno's leftovers that he's not a bad person, and that he's just as surprised to be hosting The Tonight Show as we are to see him try.
Fallon also attempted to calm his new audience by telling everyone that his house band, Philly's acoustic hip-hop group The Roots, are NOT rabid animals, and that they're so dope that they can play with Jay-Z OR Tony Bennett, references that hit both ends of the spectrum covered by his now-wider-in-age-range audience. He also introduced his announcer/sidekick Steve Higgins, and in the opening's best bit, cut Steve off as Steve tried to congratulate him. A classic move that never gets old. To the dungeon with you, worthless sidekick! The adults are speaking!
And Fallon deserves some credit, because once that awkward "you're stuck with me for the next 40 years" introduction was through, he came out from behind the curtain again for a planned do-over intro, and all of a sudden he was the energetic, lip-licking Jimmy we remembered from Late Night. He even did a Winter Olympics-themed version of the monologue and the Late Night staple "Superlatives," making fun of Bob Costas's eyes, an ice skater who looked like a lesbian Screech from Saved By the Bell, and a few others who weren't runway-ready. But hey, that's late-night humor for ya! Sorry American bobsledder Steven Holcomb, but Fallon's right, you could ease up on the ranch dressing!
Then Fallon settled in behind his new desk, where he uttered the word "excited" about 15 times before cashing in a bunch of favors owed to him by celebrity friends with a bit where famous faces came out and gave him a $100 bill as payment for losing a bet that said Fallon would never host The Tonight Show. Celebrities casually throwing money around is exactly the type of humor Joe Unemployed loves, and that's what Jimmy Fallon's first show will be known for.
First up was Mr. Focker who grumbled over to the desk and plopped down some of his Last Vegas royalties. Whatever, he'll do another Fockin' movie and then he can lose 10,000 more bets. De Niro has the system figured out, if you ask me.
Then came Tina Fey (who looks great, btw), who I'm told now haunts the hallways of 30 Rock. How is she not president of NBC already?
Then that drunk football player who almost messed up the coin toss at the Super Bowl gave Jimmy the Benjamin he was going to use to pay for a scarf made out of kittens.
Ugh, this guy! If there is a camera anywhere in New York, Rudy Giuliani is physically compelled to be in front of it. Do any of you non-Americans have a former-politician-turned-goofball-city-cheerleader in your country? Well, we will trade Giuliani for him or her and throw in a New York-style pizza pie and a Big Gulp of Diet Mountain Dew. Just take him, please!
Then a life-sized Jessica Rabbit doll with Mariah Carey's face stitched on it slinked out. It's important to note that the revolving door of celebrities were not allowed to speak, and the rule was never more important than it was in this moment.
Then Tracy Jordan handed over his money and I think it actually hurt him because it was truly his last $100. Someone give this guy a job STAT.
Then Joan Rivers. You'll get nothing but compliments for Joan Rivers from me. Why didn't she get The Tonight Show? She's white enough! Is it the penis thing? It's got to be the penis thing. One day a woman will host one of the big network late-night talk shows and then finally we will be a real country of tolerance.
Kim Kardashian and Seth Rogen showed up after Rivers, but NBC had the nerve to omit them from the promo photos. If I'm Seth Rogen, I have never been more insulted in my life to be held in that company.
Then The Lohan wandered in from off the street, but it worked out okay for the gag because she actually did owe Fallon 100 bucks.
And then Ms. New York City herself, Sarah Jessica Parker, trotted in. But don't expect any jokes from me. Haven't we already made fun of SJP enough? No need to beat a dead horse.
After that it was cannibal boxer Mike Tyson's turn, and OH NO LOOK OUT JIMMY he's going for your ear oh no wait he's just saying "thankth!" Mike Tyson is awesome. He was also one of the few people who had the decency to actually give Fallon little gift. It may have been a ransom note, but hey, it's the thought that counts.
Then some burlesque Terminator time-traveling Targaryen lady from the future gave Jimmy a hundred bucks which is only like a nickel to her because she's freakin' Lady Gaga and she saves millions in clothes by wearing only leftover Halloween costumes and dumpster underwear.
Then Steven Colbert brought out a bucket of pennies, poured them on Fallon (and probably gave him some sort of rash because pennies are disgusting), and greeted him with, "Welcome to 11:30, bitch!" Colbert wins again. You know, that reminds me: The Colbert Report is way better than The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and I should've been watching that instead.
And that was it for the star stream. It was almost too much celebrity to handle! I imagine the green room was what 2006's idea of heaven must be like.
Next up were two bits that must have shocked Leno supporters because Jay would NEVER! Fallon and Will Smith did a version of one of Fallon's most popular bits, "The Evolution of Things That Are Funny to Watch a White Guy Do." This time it was "The Evolution of Hip-Hop Dance," and yes, Fallon twerked, so knock that off your list of things you never want to see. I understand that many people find these Fallon "Evolution of" bits very funny, so I won't say anything more about it for fear of getting into a useless argument. Consider my lips zipped!
Then Fallon broke the most sacred of late-night rules and put the musical guest right in the middle of the show!? WHAT? Irish politicians U2 did one of their indistinguishable new songs (I'm still working my way through "Rattle & Hum") on the roof of a building, a callback to and huge glob of spit on where they used to be when they played the roof of a liquor store for the "Where the Streets Have No Name" video. Humble as always, U2!
After that, the show sunk into "What do we do now?" mode and was more like a regular talk show and not a celebratory drunk-on-Olympics coronation of late-night's new boy king. It was pretty boring. Do I really care about Will Smith's family vacation photos? Nope. And I also did not care about Smith making fun of Olympic curling. I don't think a man who made After Earth should be making fun of anything, especially the greatest sport known to man!
Once the Fresh Prince was done with his time, Fallon sat U2 on the couch and kissed Bono's ass.
And that was pretty much it! Personally, I prefer Letterman's tired and grumpy old man shtick to Fallon's "everything is wonderful" style, but I'd say Fallon did just fine on his first day as America's New Sweetheart for people who can't stay up past midnight. Congratulations, Jimmy, but please don't be offended when I don't watch your show because most late-night talk shows have faded into irrelevancy thanks to the video games, DVRs, Netflix, Comedy Central, Community reruns, Xanax, and the frantic refreshing of OK Cupid profiles all proving to be better alternatives for late-night entertainment. Bye! See you all again when Jayden Smith takes over The Tonight Show!
Did you watch Fallon's Tonight Show debut? What'd you think? Which late-night show will you be watching at 11:30pm?
AIRED ON 8/26/2016
Season 1 : Episode 521