In Praise of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
The first thing I love about this show? It’s on Hulu! Even when I had actual TV service, which I no longer do (my TV is now solely for DVDS and projecting internet video), I never watched it in its regular airing. If I’m still up at 12:30 it’s usually because I’m doing something else—engrossed in a movie or working on the computer or something. But they stream the episodes on Hulu for like two weeks and it’s super easy to watch two or three in a row of an evening or on a Saturday afternoon. Such as I’m doing right now.
Another thing to love: Jimmy has infectious enthusiasm for everything, as well as a seemingly legitimate interest in what his guests are actually saying. This officially makes him a better interviewer than either Jay Leno or David Letterman. This week he did a Bruce Springsteen episode where he kept slipping into his own Bruce voice (doing, for example, Bruce explaining why he bought seven Butterfingers) and basically geeked out for the whole hour. Also, Jimmy always makes the first guest play a game, which is such a great way to engage them in something that’s fun to watch. Charades is always fun; there’s beer pong, of course, and various county fair midway-type games. Last week he made Scarlett Johansson play a game where they tried to get recognizable tunes out of instruments they’d never played before. She did pretty well as a trombone novice. But my favorite is when Jimmy and Will Arnett played studio golf—they literally hit golf balls around the back hall of the TV studio, ending on a green on the main stage.
Other things to love: the Friday skit, Thank You Notes. What a simple, goofy, hilarious bit of comedy. My favorite recent thank you is, “Thank you, tuna casserole, for being the sweatpants of food.” Also, their weird TV show spoofs. “6bee” was their Glee parody, which I think has run its course; the other night they played the debut episode of their vampire drama, “Suckers.” The weird game where he gets audience members to try to knock hats off their heads without using their hands. The fact that nobody has yet seemed to figure out that women have a huge advantage in this game if their long hair is worn loose (it whips that hat right off). Or they just don’t care. I guess there’s no promise of integrity built into the whip off your hat game. If puppies could vote. Models and buckets. (It’s not obscene, I swear. SFW even.)
The Roots as the house band. I’m sure Jimmy wanted a band that was going to really set his show apart from the Old Vets and dude, the Roots do it. They help set a funkier, more youthful tone. Also, they make useful contributions to the comedy. Once a week they do Remix the Clips where they create kind of a musical break out of ridiculous soundbites. Also, when Jimmy jokes in his direction, ?uestlove (the drummer guy with the afro) does great deadpan face. Also, Sousaphone Guy! The Roots have a guy whose contribution to the band is as their sousaphone player. Who couldn’t love Sousaphone Guy?
Seriously, if you haven’t yet checked out Jimmy Fallon as late night host–either because of bias against early-aughts SNL Jimmy, or mid-aughts bad movies Jimmy, or just because it hasn’t occurred to you to do so–check it out! I’ve provided many clips to get you started.