Mid-Week Poll: How Was Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’ Debut?

As a consequence of having two screaming infants who refuse to sleep for even one minute at nighttime, I’ve been watching a lot of late night TV recently. Therefore, the transition of ‘The Tonight Show’ from Jay Leno to new host Jimmy Fallon interests me much more now than it may have if it had happened, say, two months ago. Did you watch the Fallon’s big premiere this week? How do you think he fared?

I’m writing this post on Tuesday, having only seen the Monday premiere episode. Personally, I think Fallon did OK, but he seemed overly nervous and cautious, like he was worried that the specter of Leno hovered over his shoulder every minute, waiting to pounce and take the show back… again.

Like most viewers under 70-years-old, I’m relieved to see Leno gone. That has less to do with his notorious antics in wresting ‘The Tonight Show’ away from David Letterman back in the day or Conan O’Brien more recently, than it has to do with the simple fact that the guy hasn’t been funny in at least 20 years. Not that Letterman is doing much better on CBS these days, but still… on the rare occasion that I’d flip the channel to NBC, ‘The Tonight Show’ was a complete comedic and entertainment dead zone. Leno had to go.

I like Jimmy Fallon. I think he did a great job hosting ‘Late Night’ the last several years. I’d like to see him succeed here. My fear, of course, is that the executives at NBC will hold him on such a tight leash in the new time slot that he won’t be able to let loose or have the sort of goofy fun he’s famous for. You know, basically what happened to Conan all over again.

The “Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing” skit in the premiere episode was very funny, but I worry that it may have single-handedly lost the show’s entire over-60 demographic right off the bat, and NBC will probably freak out about that. Unfortunately, that was really the only inspired bit of the night. The U2 concert on the roof of the 30 Rock building was kind of neat, though I didn’t care about the song at all. Other than that, pretty much the entire episode was devoted to people congratulating Fallon on the promotion and jokingly warning him not to blow it. That got kind of old quickly. I wish he’d found time to work one of his celebrity games into the premiere. Hopefully, he’ll make time for fun stuff like that soon.

How Was Jimmy Fallon's Debut as 'Tonight Show' Host?

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  1. William Henley

    Now that I have to be at work at 5AM, I haven’t seen a late-night talk show in a couple of years. But, I am glad that Leno is gone. He REALLY screwed over Conan, and that is just something that I will never forgive him for.

    Fallon is alright (I haven’t seen him on The Tonight Show yet, just from what I have seen in the past). I will take Fallon over Leno, but I would have much rather had Conan.

    I don’t care much for Letterman either. He was funny like 20 years ago, but I can’t stand him now.

    • Leno didn’t screw over Conan. NBC screwed over Conan. Just like they screwed over David Letterman. Leno wanted to keep his people employed (his 10pm was going to get cancelled) and Conan refused to move to midnight (instead of 11:35).

      Why people continue to blame Jay for this, I have no idea. Do you blame Jay for Letterman not getting The Tonight Show? Do you blame Jay for NBC canceling The Michael J. Fox show too? 🙂

  2. Chris

    I never thought Jay Leno was funny, I always preferred Letterman. Sure, he was kind of a smug, smarmy ass at times, but I always thought he had far more natural comedic talent than Jay.

    I LOVED Late Night with Conan O’Brian, it was my favorite show for years…but ever since he made the jump to TBS after tge NBC debacle he seems to have gone way downhill, I feel like he lost his touch.

    I like Fallon alot, people critiscized him when he first started hosting Late Night for being a poor interviewer and overly nervous, he’s cone a long way since then. I haven’t had a chance to check him out on The Tonight Show yet, I think I’ll set my PVR tonight…

    • Josh Zyber

      Letterman clearly no longer gives a damn anymore. He doesn’t care about the guests, he doesn’t care about whatever they’re promoting, and he doesn’t care about the jokes, which are mostly the same ones he’s told for years. He doesn’t even pretend to care about any of those things.

      O’Brien just seems defeated these days. He’s isolated on a cable network nobody watches, constrained by what they’ll let him do, and can no longer book any good guests. It’s just kind of depressing to watch his show now.

  3. Chris

    Yeah, to clarify; I much preferred
    letterman over leno in their respective heydays, I haven’t watched late night tv regularly in years but I hear Dave has become more sarcastic and embittered than ever. I still think that Joquin phoenix interview is fucking priceless though.

    I always thought it was odd that Conan decided to sign with TBS, I know he was being courted by several networks at the time…seemed like an odd choice. They no doubt offered him complete creative control on the show, but Im guessing others would have made similar offers.

    I agree his show is sad nowadays, whenever I do catch an interview or bit hear or there, it’s just stale and unfunny. I don’t know why he seems to have lost his mojo, maybe the Tonight show ousting rattled his confidence…

  4. Timcharger

    In 2 months, Jay will be back in the 10 o’clock time slot…

    …this is a time I wished the movies were true. Leno gets into his car in his driveway and see’s Conan standing here, blocking his car’s path. Conan takes out a remote control and pushes the red button…

    A wicked friend of Jimmy Fallon should make up a fake press release that Leno is developing a show for the 10 pm time slot.

  5. Timcharger

    Letterman’s whos-give-a-f*ck attitude is great!

    Most of these celebrity guests get their asses kissed from wake to sleep. Letterman’s candid, let-me-bring-you-back-to-earth style is refreshing.

    When Letterman is interacting with the common folk, real-people-guests, audience members, people who have contributed to society by something other than sell tabloids, Letterman shows his energy and interest in them.

    • Timcharger

      This bears repeating:

      “Letterman’s who-gives-a-f*ck attitude is great!

      Most of these celebrity guests get their asses kissed from wake to sleep. Letterman’s candid, let-me-bring-you-back-to-earth style is refreshing.

      When Letterman is interacting with the common folk, real-people-guests, audience members, people who have contributed to society by something other than selling tabloids, Letterman shows his energy and interest in them.”


      Gonna miss you, Dave. Thanks for being there.
      Many a nights in my first apartment alone, you
      made me feel less alone. Can’t imagine what the
      college years would be like without you. I’d
      probably finish the papers/studying by midnight,
      instead of 2 am; but the work produced would
      be suckier. Thanks Dave.

  6. Chris

    Hahaha I think it’s awesome how say that celebrities haven’t contributed to society other than selling tabloids…yet the majority of those celebrity guests are people who create and perform in the TV shows and movies we talk about endlessly on this very site…now that’s irony!

    • Timcharger

      Oh there’s a big difference between Kubric and Kardashian.
      Letterman wouldn’t pander to Kim unlike other talk show hosts.

      • Josh Zyber

        I recently saw Letterman interviewing the actor Michael B. Jordan, there to promote the stupid comedy That Awkward Moment. From what I could tell, Dave’s only preparation for this was to look him up on IMDb and then point out a bunch of upcoming movie projects he’s rumored to be attached to. Not actually attached to – rumored to be attached to. Jordan could not confirm that he’d been cast in any of these movies, just that his agent was in talks for him maybe to be considered for the roles, if the movies even get as far as being made. This was the laziest talk show interview I’ve ever seen, and Dave couldn’t pretend at all that he gave a shit about that.

  7. Bryan

    When Dave started the Late Show on CBS, I really enjoyed him – he was funny – the bits were good. I don’t know when he got so hypercritical and totally left-wing (might have been after the heart attack), but I just don’t find him entertaining anymore. To be honest, I kind of liked Jay (in the same way I like mac and cheese and pepperoni pizza – I know it’s not the best thing I could have, but it’s familiar and comforting)

    Having said that, I do find Jimmy Fallon likable. I saw the first episode and he seemed a little nervous, but generally did a good job. From all accounts, he’s about as genuine as you can get in the entertainment industry, so hopefully he has a good run.

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