On Monday, Jimmy Fallon took over for Jay Leno as the host of The Tonight Show.
The transition from Leno to Fallon seems similar to the transition from Johnny Carson to Leno. Carson was 67-years-old when he retired and Leno is now 63. They were both replaced by younger hosts who seem to relate more to the show’s target audience.
This isn’t the first time Leno has been replaced though. Most can recall the debacle that took place in 2009 when Conan O’Brien became the host of The Tonight show but still had to follow Leno, who took a 10 p.m. time slot.
It seemed as if Leno didn’t want to leave but rather he was being forced out. Both Leno and Conan had horrible ratings on their new shows and a media war between the two of them ensued. After it all played out, O’Brien was fired by NBC and The Tonight Show was returned to Leno.
The switch from Leno to Fallon seems different than what went on between O’Brien and Leno. It’s not to say that Leno likes Fallon more, or that Leno is more ready to retire, but Leno just seems like he’s a lot happier handing the show over to Fallon and he has even publicly expressed his happiness and support for Fallon.
I have long been a fan of both Leno and Fallon. Being able to watch their shows back-to-back since 2010 has been excellent, but I’m happy to see a change.
Fallon has excellent ratings within the 18 to 49-year-old demographic and that seems to be NBC’s target audience.
Fallon is supremely more in tune with today’s culture. His segments and sketches are outstanding and are some of the best I’ve ever seen, from “Thank You Notes” to “Late Night Hashtags.” He’s also done parodies of popular shows such as Downton Abbey, Jersey Shore, Game Of Thrones, and Breaking Bad.
He’s played beer pong with Betty White and Maria Sharapova, charades with Cameron Diaz and Donald Trump, Pictionary with Jennifer Aniston and Cee Lo Green, and had water wars with Ashton Kutcher and Tom Cruise.
Fallon also is incredibly in tune with today’s music. With what I consider to be the best band in late night television, The Roots, he’s done amazing musical sketches with guests Bruce Springsteen, Barack Obama, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, and his good friend Justin Timberlake, with whom he produced the great “History of Rap” series.
Fallon just understands what his audience wants and he delivers it like no one else can in great, creative, and extremely hilarious ways.
It’s not that Leno isn’t funny. He had some good sketches and segments of his own but he seemed to rely more on his reputation in the later part of his career. Audiences nowadays seem to need and want more than that, and Fallon is a new breed. He can keep an audience entertained in almost any way possible.
It was sad to see Leno get emotional when signing off The Tonight Show for the final time and I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.
Now it’s Fallon’s time and he’s worked very hard for this chance. I’m happy for him and I’m excited to finally see what his era on The Tonight Show will bring.
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