As 'Late Night' ends, five things Jimmy Fallon must bring to the 'Tonight Show' (with VIDEO)
There are only two more original episodes of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon left. Tonight, the show continues its look back at the Best of Late Night, with an episode paying tribute to the show’s comedy (guests Colin Farrell and Andy Samberg close things out with new shows Thursday and Friday). Monday’s episode was all about the music [watch here]; Tuesday’s about the show’s digital parodies [watch here]. All in all, it's been a great reminder of what made Late Night with Jimmy Fallon such an outrageously entertaining show: Jimmy’s eager, giddy nice-guy charm, the smart writing, the masterful impressions, the game guests, the willingness to be really silly.
But the show is ending on Friday, and Jimmy is taking up a new gig as the host of the Tonight Show. (He actually starts on Feb. 17, though Jay Leno’s last show as Tonight Show host is Thursday). Presumably, most of what makes Late Night so special will translate to an 11:35 p.m. time slot; but that show won’t be Late Night. We’re going to miss those silly, off-the-wall, WTH-just-happened moments that are easier to get away with when your show starts after midnight. There’s NO WAY something like Let Us Play with Your Look makes it in the transition; we'll miss those all-white ensembles dearly.
But we’re really excited for Jimmy and Co., and hope the move to the Tonight Show means a larger audience for what has turned into one of the best late-night brands on TV. If Jimmy's Tonight Show is going to be a success, everyone involved should make sure these Late Night elements aren't lost in the shuffle:
1. Smart writing: Late Night has a great group of writers, many of whom are game for participating in various bits with Fallon, always to hilarious effect. Plus, they're responsible for the show's digital parodies of TV shows, which are some of the best things to come out of Late Night. They've done everything from Jersey Shore (Jersey Floor) and Game of Thrones (Game of Desks) to Breaking Bad (Joking Bad) and Lost (Late). Joking Bad and Late are our faves just in terms of tremendous execution and spot-on references, but they're all good enough to make us wish there were entire seasons to enjoy.
2. The Roots: Thankfully, Jimmy's Philadelphia-based house band isn't going anywhere, which is good news for everyone - they're essential to Late Night. They can do anything, from the clever music they play when guests walk out to their musicality in the classroom-instrument segments with Robin Thicke and Carly Rae Jepsen to Slow Jammin' the News. But mostly, they bring a cool factor to the show that balances with Jimmy's decidedly over-excited presence. Watch them in one of their best segments, Freestylin With the Roots, where they make up songs about the audience on the spot:
3. Youthfulness: One of the big reasons for Fallon's move to the Tonight Show is that NBC wants to capture a younger demographic for its late-night show. Fallon is more than 20 years younger than the guy he's replacing, so he's hip to what the kids are into today. Like hashtags. Every week, Fallon picks a hashtag for people to tweet about, like #MyDumbInjury or #ThanksgivingFail, then reads some of the best tweets on the air. This seems like something hip enough to bring that youth factor to the Tonight Show, but not too young that it would turn older viewers off. After all, the segments are still hilarious even if you've never tweeted before. Watch:
4. Silliness: Fallon, known long ago for breaking character and laughing in practically every Saturday Night Live sketch he was in, brings a fair amount of silliness to Late Night. One of his recurring games features him and a celebrity guest cracking eggs on their head. Another has audience members spin a wheel of carpet samples in the quest to win ... a carpet sample. There's a sketch where everyone uses fake arms, and this weird thing with Jason Schwartzman. But the most bizarre of all of these is the recurring Let Us Play With Your Look segment, which you really need to see to believe:
5. Getting celebrities to do crazy things: The other Jimmy on at 11:30 p.m. is also good at this, but Fallon has a way of getting just about everyone in on his bits. President Obama slow-jammed the news with the Roots (and Mrs. Obama did some righteous mom dancing). Bryan Cranston donned a white wig and smeared goo on an audience member's head. Joseph Gordon-Levitt got REALLY into a lip sync-off contest [watch below]. Betty White played beer pong, for goodness sake. Keeping those willing celebs on hand for the Tonight Show is a must.