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Review: Jimmy Fallon's first night

NBC's remaking of late-night network television began Monday night with Jimmy Fallon'sFallon assumption of the chair formerly occupied by Conan O'Brien, who is preparing to occupy the chair soon to be formerly occupied by Jay Leno, who is moving down into prime time. Such passings of the mike happen rarely: Openings in late-night are as few and far between as on the Supreme Court bench, and when filled tend to be occupied for a similar length of time, which makes the premiere of "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" epochal by definition, irrespective of content or execution.

Fallon is an eager, amiable fellow of 34 who spent several seasons on "Saturday Night Live," specializing in characters who but for the the grace of god, one feels, he might easily have become himself: a tech support guy, a morning radio host, a college student doing his comedy into a webcam. Though I've never found him exactly compelling, he's a friendly presence and the late-night role seems on the face of it a good fit — "Weekend Update" already showed that he can deliver topical one-liners while wearing a suit, at any rate. On his opening night, he seemed nervous but happy.

It was not a bad beginning, in spite of offering notoriously poor interview Robert De Niro as the first guest. (Fallon had prepared a list of questions that could be answered in a word, but the comic effect was negligible, and the interview was in fact poor.) The actor's mere presence was a sort of benediction in itself, nonetheless, and he consented to participate in a throwaway "Space Train" sketch and to impersonate Fallon, who impersonated him, in a bit recycled from "SNL." And next guest Justin Timberlake, an old friend of "SNL," was comfortable and amusing enough for the three of them.

A nicely downbeat cold opening featured Conan O'Brien clearing out his stuff from the dressing room. ("Will you be taking Jay's old dressing room when you go to L.A.?" "Jay isn't leaving.") The following monologue was a thing of its kind — that is, not as funny as you'd like — delivered with occasional grimaces and grunts and hand in pocket Johnny Carson-style. There was a slickly made short film on the blond mom target demographic ("They purchase expensive items like minivans, but also everyday items like yogurt, Williams-Sonoma flatware, personalized checks and discreet dolphin tattoos that say I'm two chardonnays away from ruining your wedding") and a bit in which audience members were invited to lick a lawn mower, a copy machine, a goldfish bowl. Musical guest Van Morrison finished the evening with a shambling "Sweet Thing."

"My only competition is sleep," Fallon has been saying in interviews, conveniently forgetting Craig Ferguson, his actual and estimable competition (along with the back half of Jimmy Kimmel's somewhat more forgettable, less estimable midnight show). Ferguson has created something original and personal over on CBS, and whether Fallon will get to be nearly as good, or even mount a decent interview with a person he doesn't already know, remains to be seen.

But it was an encouraging start. A series of pre-premiere "test shows" (from which emerged one viral video, Jack "Kenneth the Page" McBrayer's response to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal) allowed the host to hit the ground running, or at least not stumbling. In Fallon's defense, if he needs one, this is a form that develops in the fullness of time, as chances are taken and limits tested and you learn the things you can learn only in the doing, night after night after midnight.

— Robert Lloyd

Photo: NBC

 
Comments () | Archives (34)

Hello for Jimmy Fallon's, first time he, was outstanding. Writer's he did good.

Never liked Fallon. Didn't expect much. Got less. Only good things on the first show: Van Morrison, and The Roots (minus the part where Fallon sang).

Second night - watched monologue. Watched Colbert (which I taped during Letterman). Went back to Fallon at the end to watch Santigold. The side pockets of stages have go to go - no-one needs to see stupid people "dancing" while you're trying to watch the musicians.

Probably won't watch Fallon much more except for musical acts. My suggestion: dump Fallon and let The Roots do the whole show. Both ?uestlove and Black Thought are funnier than Fallon (but then who isn't?). They could alternate between host and sidekick.

Here's your new mantra... The Roots forever! Fallon never!

Jimmy Fallon's debut was an utter and total failure as far as I'm concerned. Of course I'm biased 'cause I've never thought him all that funny to begin with (I'm not real big on Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler or those stupid Judd Apatow/Seth Rogan movies, either), but come on - Lick This? With the always great Letterman and the fantastic Craig Ferguson in their stable, look for CBS to finally claim the late night crown in the very near future.

To the people saying Deniro did fallon wrong.......you obviously have never seen Deniro in an interview. He is notoriously shy and uncomfortable. He was trying to help fallon by appearing even though he is afraid of interviews. And he was completely game, by doing the impression of fallon and appearing in the skit.

If fallon and the writers had been smart, they would not have even had a Deniro interview, just done some taped bits with him instead. Because deniro is a horrible interview and always has been. He's just uncomfortably shy when he he's not playing a character.

I LIKE Jimmy Fallon. He is a "very" polite guy & usually very funny in private. i think HIS writer team is bit off & HE HASN'T HAD A CHANCE TO KNOW HOW THE CROWDS OF PEOPLE ACT IN CERTAIN WAYS IN THIS LATE NIGHT SHOWS JUST YET. IN ANOTHER WORDS, CONNAN O'BRIAN KNOWS THE CROWDS BETTER & BIGGER, TALLER & FUNNIER...EHHH YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? WTF? LOL ;)
WELL, NOBODY TREAT MR. Robert De Niro LIKE THAT.... YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? ; ) I'M TELLING YOU... SIMPLY, IT WAS JUST BIT OFF. MUST HAVE WORK WITH CROWDS BEFOR HE SHOWED UP. I COULDN'T BELIEVE MY EYES, MAN. JIMMY? DON'T FAKE THE ATTITUDE ON RESPECTS.
2ND SHOW WAS MUCH BETTER. JIMMY LOST BIT OF HIS RESPECT TOWARDS TO THE MAYER OF NEW YORK IN A SEGMENT. I COULD TELL HIS TONE OF HIS VOICE. JOHN VON JOVI SHOWING WAS GREAT. HAPPY BIRTH DAY! JOHN. YOU ROCK. TINA FAY WAS GREAT ALSO. HOWEVER, OVERALL, STILL LUCK TEMPO IN THE SHOW. I MUST SAY CONNAN STILL HOLDS WINNING SEAT (ME). JIMMY, WE ALL KNOW YOU R ONE OF THE GREATEST & U R VERY FUNNY. JUST WORK ON IT . BECAUSE, WE ALL KNOW THAT YOU CAN DO MUCH BETTER FOR SURE. COMOM... MAN. YOU CAN'T EVEN BEAT CONNAN'S WORST DAY ? GOOD LUCK. JUST "FLOOR" THE PEDAL WITH GREAT RESPECTS TO EACH EVERY GUESTS IN A SHOW . I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT.

Two shows and not a single laugh from me. He's just not funny.

Mr. Lloyd, your review sums it up. Very well communicated.

My thoughts on the first show:

Highlights: Slow Jammin' the News and Justin Timberlake.

Low Lights: Lick it for $10 and ALL things DeNiro. (no disrespect)

Personal Weakness: Horrible interviewer! Jittery, nervous and not at all interested in listening to his guests.

Personal Strengths: Really funny when he's funny. (it just didn't happen often enough)

Overall, as a first show -- let's just say he safely landed it on the Hudson.

Conan was never this bad, was he?

The first show SUCKED BAD - "lick this" r u kidding me? Jimmy has potential but wow this was terrible!

Jimmy Fallon acts too up tight and seems fake. He is NOT funny and seeing him trying to be gets on my nerves. PULL THE PLUG ON THIS SHOW PLZZZZ..KEEPING HIM ON IS JUST GOING TO HURT HIS CAREER !

three things:

1) he needs better writers
2) he needs to slow down when he talks
3) He slurs his words so he needs to speak more clearly. What's the point of talking if he cannot be understood.. Leno has a tendency to speak rapidly but Letterman is very deliberate. He might do well to listen to Dave from time to time.

NBC should get Chelsea Handler to replace Fallon. She is practically the female version of Conan--cutting edge, fearless, oh and very funny. Fallon is none of these. Someone needs to snatch Chelsea up soon because she's getting great reviews with her half hour bit. And God knows we need at least one lady in the late night lineup!

I am so glad most of you can kick rocks now.... Jimmy's show is the best of late night. sharing his age... I can relate to his humor and references and I am sure our generation feels the same.... shame on you guys for being so hard on him for his first show... you may have to stick to Conan which has turned out to be a disappointment so far... or better yet aren't you suppose to be in bed anyway?

 
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