Late Night night 1

As Conan boards the wagon train west for California, life goes on in Studio 6B.

Tonight, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon premiered on NBC. People have been expecting Fallon to fail and put in an abysmal job at Late Night. Some were worried that he would be the one to destroy the 27 year old franchise.

I'm optimistic, though. No one expected Conan to be successful, yet despite a rough start he put on an awesome show.

I actually liked the first couple seasons on Conan. He opened his first episode with a joke about peace in the middle east, and ended with a leg wrestling match between George Wendt and John Goodman.

And it got better from there.

Fallon's first episode was, well, not quite that awesome. It was Okay.

Fallon was visibly nervous and stiff. That's to be expected when everyone is anticipating your failure. There were a few times in the monologue where he started to improvise and stray from his cue cards, and those moments were good. If he relaxes and let's his own material and personality come through, he could be good.

There are a couple of problems. The "Lick it for Ten" bit was just dumb. He gave people $10 to lick random things he brought out from back stage.

Sure it's a neat way to sell additional sponsorships ("Hey, Mr. Corporation, for $30,000 we'll introduce your product and have an audience member lick it. Do we have a deal?") but there really wasn't much comedic value to it.

There was no buildup.
The stuff was all clean.
There was no reason not to lick it.

The major humor value came from the slow motion replays of people's tongues.

His interview skills need some work. In his interviews with Robert Dinero and Justin Timberlake, we learned more about Jimmy Fallon than we did about his guests.

Interviewing someone is not a conversation. The host is there to showcase and call attention to the guest. The host must be a presence, but it's about telling the guests' stories. And Fallon did not do that effectively.

To be fair, Conan, Dave, and Johnny all moved the focus to themselves from time-to-time, but they already demonstrated they had the skills to do a proper interview. And even then, it was to tell the story about the guest, not just to share their own background with the audience.

Fallon needs to get more comfortable in his role. He needs to grow more confident. And he needs to be willing to drop into the background and let his guests shine.

I see glimmers of success in there. And I'll keep tuning in for awhile to see what happens in the coming weeks.

You can see highlights of the show here.


Anonymous said...

Well, the main problem here is that Fallon is about as funny as bone cancer. I've been to funerals that were more enjoyable than watching Fallon's desperate antics.

Other than that, the show may be a success!

Anonymous said...

So far, I found it to be really quite awful. I always thought Fallon was one of the weak links on SNL, his movies were horrendous, and so far his show leaves much to be desired.

He does this stupid audience participation stuff that has no punch line. Like the licking stuff, or the Karaoke with Bon Jovi, there was nothing funny or entertaining about it. Just bad.

I tell you, near the end of Conan's run I was getting pretty tired of his re-used bits, but I've got a newfound respect for his show after watching this train wreck.

Anonymous said...

The first show was the worst of the week. I really like audience participation and using guests of the show in skits. I don't care about the "lick it for 10" though.