Friday, June 05, 2009

Checking in on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' - Sepinwall on TV

After talking a lot about Conan O'Brien earlier in the week, it occurred to me that the more interesting column right now is to talk about how Jimmy Fallon has been doing three months into the job. And the answer is surprisingly well.

25 comments:

Fernando said...

I'm a huge Hip Hop/Roots fan and they're choice of music for the guest is really inspired. "Cash Rules Everything Around Me" for Donald Trump, "Liquid Swords" for Seth Rogen (as he sported a "Liquid Swords" Tee in 40 year old virgin), "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark for Andy Sandberg, etc...

I wish the interview clips online had them cuz they really add something to the clip if you get the references.

macarthur31 said...

Fallon is doing fine -- it's not that he's a comic genius, but he's relentlessly affable. Loved that NPR insight on how "celebrity impersonations" is the polar opposite of Jaywalking in terms of encouraging us to laugh with folks instead of at them.

The comedy will come: he's already developed some quality bits -- Slow Jam the News, Celeb impersonations, etc. And, I really like how he's tried to infuse technology into his show -- i.e. the webcam interview with Jon Favreau. All in all -- the show moves quicker: The monologue bleeds into bits, and bits bleed into interviews, and interviews have their own skits/bits within them, etc.

Fallon will win in the long run -- he's works hard, he's very nice and tries to make his guests look good, and he gets to build an audience in the wake of Jay and Conan establishing themselves.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Just watching last night's show. He even managed to make Jessica Biel seem like she had a personality by just inviting her to work out with him for the second segment (check out the new picture). That's the sign of a host that knows what he's doing (or, at least, of a host who has a clever producer): he can make people who usually come across as dull or guarded seem lively and fun.

Karen said...

I do like that point that the NPR blogger made. It may underscore another reason why I never cared for Jay Leno.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And now I'm watching Conan, and he roped Gwyneth Paltrow into showing him how to exercise. Did they coordinate this?

Otto Man said...

Conan not only got Paltrow to exercise with him, he got her to grope his ass.

Well done.

Omagus said...

I pretty much completely agree with your article. I don't always watch Fallon's show and the first few times I did was pretty much because I'm a huge fan of the Roots, like Fernando. The first episode was notoriously disastrous and I felt bad for the guy. But more recently I've found that Jimmy Fallon is easy to root for because he really is a likable guy.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Compare/contrast: Jessica Biel tries to make a man out of Fallon vs. Gwyneth tries to give Conan a proper rear end

Andrew said...

I happened to watch some of Tuesday night's show, and it was surprisingly good-- with Steve Martin playing his banjo with Paul Simon, and then Paul Simon playing "Late in the Evening" with The Roots and the horn section from Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. When they were on, The Beastie Boys played "So Watcha Want" backed by The Roots.

Besides these pairings being good on their own, Fallon's enthusiasm about them is enjoyable. Every late night show should have a sousaphone.

Fallon seems to be developing a personality for the show that is different from Conan and Letterman. Given how unfunny he was on SNL, I'm impressed.

Jeff said...

I too will call myself pleased with how the show is progressing.

I set up the season pass when it premiered just for this reason -- there's probably one or two bits per week that would really work, and it's quick to FF thru the rest.

I am also a fan of how the show has been using the technology -- getting 30,000 people to follow some random audience member on Twitter, the intentionally awful iPhone apps, the videowall that has videogames plugged into it... all good stuff.

I was reading that one of his showrunners used to run "Attack of the Show" on G4, which would certainly play into their "let's make the show tech saavy" desire. I like the tech guests he has on -- Kevin Rose, Alex Albrecht, etc. since they're niche celebrities, but they still get a platform at 12:30 on a major network.

I don't quite want to equate that with Letterman's ability to bring out and gently (or not so gently)mock the lady who has a TV station in her basement calibre guests, but it's nice that they have room for people who have a degree of interestingness beyond appearing in US Weekly....

Jaynee said...

I'm one of the few that was thrilled that Fallon got a night show - I really like him. As such, I have very much enjoyed his late night show (I Tivo it every night). I thought the Jennifer Aniston interview was spectacular, too - I've NEVER seen her that comfortable in an interview, and that definitely speaks to how Fallon treats his guests. In turn, they totally get into it - such as Clive Owen playing foosball, Glenn Close shoving baby carrots in her mouth, and Drew Barrymore licking a bowling ball for $10.

Anonymous said...

The Roots are really good enough on this show that it makes up for a lot of the misses. They're by far the best band in late night right now. It's a little weird to hear Max and the Tonight Show band and think, "Eh..they're ok I guess", when only a few months ago they were top dog.

Steve Wirzba said...

I suppose if you compare the job Fallon is doing, considering his short stint so far, with Letterman and Conan, he is doing an acceptable job. But the fact that we have been conditioned to think its acceptable - to think its good enough for late night tv - is unfortunate.

The bottom line is this: Craig Ferguson is light years ahead of anyone else on late night tv. His monologue is consitently laugh-out-loud funny, with tons of natural improved bits. He is the best interviewer of the lot of them; his tradition of tearing up the question card is more than just a gimmick, its representative of how he really runs his interviews.

Why is his not the most watched late night show? Why doesn't CBS get him some better guests? Why, in the very least, wont they spring for some HD cameras?? I don't get it.

Basically, I feel that on most nights, late night tv is an underachieving disappointment, with the significant exception of Craig Ferguson.

Alan, I don't think I've ever read anything about Ferguson on your blog - do you like him as a late night host/do you share any of the lamentations i've expressed?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Steve, I mention Ferguson in the column as the only late night host who actually seems interested in -- and really good at -- the "talk" part of being a talk show host. He's a lot of fun to watch.

TomV-PiscatawayNJ said...

Well, I guess I'll be the only one to say this but...I don't really care for the Roots. I think they make too big a deal about them on this show.Jimmy leans on them like a crutch at times.Many times I don't know what the hell they're playing, and Jimmy's theme song is an annoying, manical mess.
I've never seen so many guests and columnists make sucha big deal about a band.Please stop with the "aren't they great!" stuff already!!
Jimmy's doing OK. I too am giving him some slack, the same slack I gave to Conan when he took over Late Night.And that really paid off.

amitytv said...

Humm. I see what you mean about Fallon, Alan. (Ha, ha, I didn't even plan that.)
I watched all three of the videos you linked and they were really good. I wrote him off after watching the premiere, and haven't given him a second thought since then. But I can see where he might take a different approach to some of the guests and I enjoy the times where he tries something new and it pays off.
I don't have time to actually watch the show, but I will go looking for short clips of good segments every now and then. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I was watching Fallon for a while just out of sheer fascination at how uniformly bad the show was. Awful doesn't begin to describe it and he's been getting openly ripped in the blogosphere for 3 months now. He wasn't funny on SNL and he's not funny now.

Curiosity helped boost his ratings initially. Now, they're well below where Conan was at the same point in time.

And The Roots? Yeah, they're fine. Curious that people go out of their way to say how "amazing" they are. Are they really? Why is that? They perform for a few seconds going to break and coming back. Nothing exceptional. Sorry.

Steve said...

I was shocked that Fallon got a show, because he could never make it through a bit without laughing on SNL.

The premiere was brutal, but that can be chalked up te nerves. I don't watch the show often, but see clips here and there, and I am pleasantly surprised.

Even when he mumbles/giggles through bits, he is so genuinely likable, that I understand why he was given the show. He seems to put the celebrities at ease, and has a great time on his own show.

The Dave Matthews GPS and the celebrity impersonations were very fun to watch. Plus, getting the Roots indicates that he is well-liked... awesome pull.

I still think Ferguson and Kimmel are the best in the business, but I'm happy for Jimmy's success.

Tyroc said...

People keep complimenting The Roots because they have several beloved albums and are an incredible live band. So if you're a fan of those albums its shocking to see them doing a late night talkshow.

No other latenight show has that.

As for Fallon, I caught Monday's show and it was a great hour of TV. Hathaway was her charming self, and Will Forte killed. Not sure how much Jimmy had to do with any of it, but he's like a big puppy -- trying so hard to please and so sweet -- that it's hard to dislike the guy even when a joke isn't working. (Which is a surprise for me, because on SNL he seemed too happy with himself and easy to dislike.)

Aristophanes said...

I wasn't terribly excited about Fallon taking over this show, but I've been impressed. I don't watch that often, but I regularly see great bits posted online that make me think I should watch more often. I appreciate the innovation he's using, and the playfulness with the guests. The image of Glenn Close with a mouthful of carrots will last quite some time.

TxGowan said...

I like the show and that's coming from someone who never really cared for Fallon in any of his previous gigs.

I particularly like when he gets the guests involved in something like when he played Wii Tennis with one of the Williams sisters, when he played beer pong with Anna Kournikova or, as you mentioned, the working out with Jessica Biel.

Also, I'll admit I love The Roots and Lick It For $10.

Anonymous said...

Fallon sucks, get your head out of your ass Alan

Anonymous said...

The Roots are the bomb. End of story.

Anonymous said...

That Anne Hathaway interview was horrible. I felt bad for him. Brutal!!!

belinda said...

Kind of late to this post, but while watching some Fallon, I kind of had a crazy thought:-

Jimmy Fallon is basically what Chuck (from Chuck) would be like, as a late night host, minus all the intersect kung fu stuff.

The way he talks, especially certain phrases, the geekiness, and even the slight nervous laughs and ticks, they're like the same person! It's almost a bit eerie how similar they are.

Me likey.