Tag Archives: Late Night

Tonight is Just a State of Mind – On the First Week of Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’

It was just over four years ago that much digital ink was spilled on this blog over the Game of Thrones-like* maneuvering in the kingdom of late night. We talked about the principled, heroic path that Conan O’Brien chose, or, arguably, forged. We also suggested that, perhaps, Jay Leno wasn’t the malevolent Machiavelli we all assumed him to be. We also stressed that David Letterman, his house untouched, remained the King of Late Night, the walls of his castle fortified and impenetrable, and he was likely watching, with glee, as his competitors warred around him.** Like with many blogs and media outlets at the time, the post-11:30pm drama dominated the conversation on this site. And now, nearly half a decade later, Leno has been dethroned*** once again, but this is first we’ve written about it. Why? Because this time Leno was replaced in a bloodless coup, a gracious transfer of power, with the young, affable Jimmy Fallon ascending to The Tonight Show desk in grand, but still humble and respectful fashion. 

In fact, four episodes into Fallon’s Tonight Show and the only real notable shift from Late Night is that the former program has returned to New York, where it began so many years ago. And that geographical stasis might explain why Fallon’s Tonight does not stray very far at all from his Late Night, save for a new, gorgeous coliseum-like theater, more space for the thirty-four members of The Roots and an opening sequence directed by Spike Lee (whatever that entails). Nearly through his first week as the guy, Fallon has already trotted out Late Night favorites like “The Evolution of_____,” the Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet, the #Hashtag sketch, and charades (a segment that, no doubt, inspired NBC to develop my parent’s new favorite show, Celebrity Game Night). What is actually most interesting and telling to us, even if it is a fluke of the schedule, a footnote due to the Olympic programming, is that Fallon’s Tonight Show actually debuted at midnight, a concept that Conan O’Brien found so sacrilege that it became the keystone of his argument for parting ways with NBC.

But with Fallon, so attuned to the world of DVRs and YouTube, time slots are meaningless, just some listing in TV guide, historical minutiae. His show would not be measured by the number of viewers during a certain hour. It wouldn’t even be measured with +7 ratings or YouTube. It would be measured by laughs, it would be judged by the barometer of fun. What Fallon’s Tonight Show has demonstrated thus far, and supported by his temporarily delayed time slot, is that it’s the “Show” part that matters, not the “Tonight” part. If he can make people laugh, especially an A-list celebrity or legendary music group, or Steve Higgins or his own parents, or you at home or your own parents, then he’s happy. Then he’s doing the show that he wants. Unlike Conan, Fallon cedes the floor to his guests. And, unlike Conan, Fallon is willing to cede his time slot to network partners, just happy to be a part of the team. Which, again, is less of a magnanimous, unselfish gesture and more the necessities of prime-time Olympic programming. Still, it feels fitting that even when nice guy Jimmy Fallon got the call to the big show, he was bumped thirty minute to accommodate replays of Ice Dancing. And, we feel safe in saying, he couldn’t be happier about it. 

*Fascinating that four years ago, when we wrote all those posts, we didn’t know that Game of Thrones was a thing that existed. 
**Get it? It’s a whole Game of Thrones motif. 
***Okay, we’ll stop. 
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Filed under Analysis, Count Bleh, Good Humor, Talkies

Jumped the Snark Shorty – Chris Hardwick Singled Out For Late Night

Chris HardwickBriefly, we want to remind you of a few weeks back when we discussed the possible successor to Jimmy Fallon as host of Late Night. The rumor at the time – and still presumed favorite – is that Seth Meyers will take over in Studio 6B. However, we voiced our opposition to that plan, with no disrespect to the vastly talented and incredibly charming Meyers. Instead, we felt it best if the show went a different direction. Specifically, West, to Los Angeles, where it could mine some of that coast’s best and underutilized talent. Well, yesterday Comedy Central basically announced plans to do just that, with the news surfacing that they’ve tapped Chris Hardwick to host a late night talk show following The Colbert Report, the net’s first real foray into traditional late night programming. With Hardwick, the Nerdist impresario, you have that young, cutting edge, hip LA talent that we talked about, the Nerdist podcast network including comedians like Kurt Braunholer, Pete Holmes and TJ Miller. Possibly even more important than gaining access to the Nerdist family, the show will be executive produced by Reno 911 creators and The State alums Tom Lennon and Ben Garant, with additional involvement from the folks at Funny or Die. So, essentially, this show links up most of Los Angeles’ best, funniest, talent all in one place. What a deep pool of talent to pool from. Too bad NBC couldn’t think of this first.

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A Jumped the Snark Shorty: Dave, Lindsay & Alec

Yesterday we talked about how greatly Dave Letterman is revered, how, despite Leno winning the ratings battle, Letterman has clearly won the Late Night war. Part of his appeal, admittedly,  has been his aloofness, his refusal to play by the rules and pander to either the audience or the guests. His rough edge is what, ironically, has made him endearing for three decades. But there are times, rare but documented, when Dave abandons his cranky side, however briefly  and shows true compassion. It is that sensitive, caring, paternal part of Dave that is the flip side to his default curmudgeon state, the yin to his prickly yang that has made him so beloved and appreciated. And it was precisely that element of Dave that was on display when Lindsay Lohan appeared on The Late Show to, ostensibly, promote her appearances with Charlie Sheen in Scary Movie 5 and on Anger Management. However, with Lindsay due to enter court mandated rehab in May, and with Dave’s history of engaging troubled starlets, including Lohan, Letterman not surprisingly steered the conversation towards off-camera matters, boldly confronting Lohan about her personal problems. It was awkward and sad and kind of hard to watch, and certainly not something you’d see from Jay Leno, but it was also classic Dave. And, despite Lohan’s obvious discomfort you can see that she appreciates Dave’s concern, and, conversely, it is plain that Dave’s concern is genuine.

[full interview here]

You can argue that Dave was wrong to drudge up her personal life – clearly Lohan is not in the right state of mind to address these things on-camera – but despite whatever sensationalist motive Dave might have had, you can’t argue that Dave does not care about Lohan. He’s a lot of things, but disingenuous it not one.

In other late night news, reports are indicating that Alec Baldwin is interested in hosting a late night talk show, potentially taking over the 1:35am slot currently (still, somewhat shockingly) occupied by Last Call with Carson Daly,* and that NBC is likewise interested in continuing their relationship with Baldwin. This show would most likely take on the form of an intimate one-on-one interview, something like a television version of Baldwin’s WNYC podcast Here’s the Thing. It would also be akin to Tom Snyder’s Late Late Show, which we discussed in yesterday’s post. As opposed to the possibility of Seth Meyers taking over for Jimmy Fallon on Late Night,  which we explained might be an ill-advised choice, we think this makes more sense. Baldwin is already in the Lorne Michaels/Broadway Video family, having just finished his career redefining stint on the Michael’s produced 30 Rock and having become the definitive SNL host (non-Justin Timberlake category). He’s arguably as popular as ever, and, as his podcast interview with Billy Joel showed, he can be simultaneously intelligent and well-read while still just feeling like a regular guy from Long Island. It’s that easy-going charisma that would make Baldwin a successful interviewer, and it’s not absurd to think that people would enjoy tuning in to see him chat with other actors, writers, musicians for an hour. In fact, it has so much promise, and is so different from what Jimmy Fallon does, it might actually make for a better companion directly after The Tonight Show, whether under the banner of Late Night or as something entirely new. With Fallon’s show being so frantic, so silly, so irreverent, it might be nice to pair it with something more old-fashioned and slower-paced, even if it’s just a Baldwin hosted show one night a week. And Baldwin can do it as long as he wants, until either he or Lorne is ready to for someone or something else. Worst case scenario, it can’t be as bad as The Chevy Chase Show.

*While this post was being written Deadline reported that Last Call with Carson Daly has been renewed for another (13th!) season, so all those words might have been for naught. Still, this might not affect the Baldwin situation, or, perhaps, indicate that he would, in fact, be considered for the Late Night slot.

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Filed under Analysis, Shorties, Talkies, Yasmine Bleeth

A Jumped the Snark Shorty: Jimmy & Jay, An East Side Story

Last night on Late Night they kicked off the show with a musical number that joined Jimmy Fallon and his lead-in Jay Leno, the current host of The Tonight Show dueting with the rumored successor. This parody of West Side’s Story’s “Tonight” brought together these two hosts whose names have been so dragged through the news and blogosphere the last few weeks, whose futures have become the subject of much speculation and scrutiny. Leno, from his perch in Burbank, has made no secret of his recent disdain for NBC and its executives; Fallon, like he did during the Leno-Conan controversy three years ago, has done his part to stay out of the fray, trying to stay friendly with everyone and stay as far away from any whispers of backstabbing or plotting as possible. And this sketch goes to show that while Leno might have a considerable beef with NBC brass, he harbors no ill will towards Fallon, and Jimmy, for his part, appreciates all that Jay has done for him. 

However, while this bit illustrates that everything may be copacetic between Jay and Jimmy, it also demonstrates why Fallon is so highly regarded and why he’s so quickly being elevated to the top spot. Yes, this is a great piece of television that shows that Leno can still have a great sense of humor about these things and about all things, but by airing on Late Night it only serves to further bolster Fallon and his team’s credentials, once again proving their creativity and passion for the medium, and their keen ability to capitalize on a situation. This was probably the best four minutes either program will air this week, and some of Late Night‘s best work this year (non-Justin Timberlake category), the A+ material on the network’s B show. But the fact that this bit was conceived and produced by the Late Night team and broadcast as part of Fallon’s show offers yet one more reason why Fallon is ready to take over the mantle. It wasn’t quite passing the torch as it was recognizing where the fire is. 

Right now, Late Night justs get it. Even Leno agrees.

 

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Filed under Analysis, Brilliance, Broadway!, Shorties, Talkies

In Case You Were Wondering, Jimmy Fallon Is Still Killing It

We don’t talk about it much anymore, because it’s like pointing out that the sun rose in the East, it’s just the immutable truth, but Jimmy Fallon continues to be brilliant on Late Nightlate night in and late night out.  His latest, The Evolution of Dad Dancing, is just the latest in what is now a multi-year string of genius, originality and unbridled fun.

(and, if you’re wondering, our Dad’s trademark dance falls somewhere in between the “Clap When You Want To” and the “Until You Hurt Your Back”)

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Gratuitous Search Term Bait of the Day: Not Lorne Michaels

Today some of you ended up here by searching for the term “lorne michaels,” and it’s no surprise that query directed you to this blog, as rarely an SNL post goes by without a mention the father of the Not Yet Ready For Prime Time Players.  But you already know about Lorne Michaels: creator of SNL, executive producer of Late Night, inspiration for Dr. Evil, point of obsession for Marc Maron, Canadian.  So we tried to find something different, something new, and in doing so came across a sketch titled “Not Lorne Michaels.”  Except, upon watching the sketch, we discovered that Hulu must have posted the wrong clip.  The description says “Tommy Flanagan tricks Rosanna Arquette into her thinking he’s executive producer Lorne Michaels,” but what plays is an introduction from New York Mets pitcher Ron Darling, apologizing to the audience for the Mets’ epic game six victory in the 1986 World Series, an extra-innings affair that preempted SNL and resulted in the episode airing on tape delay two weeks later, new but not live.  This fascinated us for three reasons: 1) we’re colossal Mets fans, and basically worship the 1986 team as if they are demigods, 2) we didn’t know their victory had an effect on something we love with almost as much reverence, and 3) a clip that is titled “Not Lorne Michaels” is also not the right clip.  It’s almost as if Lorne was determined to get the last laugh, refusing to let anyone impersonate him.  Either that or someone at Hulu just totally screwed up.

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Filed under Gratuitous Search Term Bait, Matt Christopher Books, Saturday Night Live

On the Fifth Night of Hanukkah Jumped the Snark Gave to You…

…The Muppets & Jimmy Fallon &  Christmas!  Because it’s Christmas Eve AND Hanukkah and that calls for something special.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

That’s two years in a row.  Hopefully that means this is a holiday tradition.

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