By: Addison Smith | Sports Editor
I watched Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from the first show on March 2, 2009. It seems fitting that I get the privilege of writing about the first week of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon ran for five seasons and 961 episodes, 39 short of reaching 1,000. In his first week in 2009, Fallon hosted the likes of Justin Timberlake and Robert De Niro. This past week for Fallon’s first Tonight Show Fallon brought back guests Timberlake, but also invited Michelle Obama, Will Smith, Will Ferrell and a multitude of other famous friends, including Kristen Wiig dressed as Harry Styles from One Direction.
The big names worked, with Fallon bringing in some of the best Tonight Show ratings since 1993. According to the Nielsen ratings, The Tonight Show averaged 8.49 million viewers a night. In comparison, Jimmy Kimmel Live had 2.413 million viewers at his highest point last week. Fallon managed these numbers all while being sick his first week.
In comparison to his old show, Fallon didn’t run anything new. He continued his old favorites including charades with celebrity guests and thank you notes on Fridays. For those of you who don’t watch Fallon, on Fridays he writes thank you notes to people and inanimate objects that bring some to tears from laughing so hard. (He also has a book series filled with thank you notes, highly recommended). The only thing that truly seems to be different to the bare eye is the new set and new studio. Gone are the days of an old, what seemed to be library desk and couches. Fallon’s furniture is elaborate than his previous on Late Night.
Some of the standout bits from the first week include Hashtag 2 with Jonah Hill, where he and Fallon speak in only hashtags to each other, History of Rap 5 where Fallon and Timberlake rap bits of famous rap songs from throughout history and Evolution of Hip Hop Dancing where Will Smith and Fallon dance some of the oldest and newest hip hop moves. Also memorable from Fallon’s first week was when Will Ferrell “figure skated” to the Downton Abbey theme song and when Ferrell made an appearance dressed as a teenage girl with Michelle Obama on a recurring Fallon bit entitled “Ew”.
For those of you who don’t know “Ew,” it was inspired by an audience member who randomly blurted “EW!” in the middle of a Late Night episode and stars Fallon as teenager Sara who hosts a talk show, entitled “Ew” of course, where Sara and guests discuss teenage boys, dancing and honestly anything you would expect from teenage girls. The theme of the “Ew” with Obama and Ferrell was a little different where Obama discussed healthy eating and living.
So what can we take away from Fallon’s first week on The Tonight Show? He is in the late night game to win it. His bits and sketches cannot be matched by other late night hosts and his YouTube views are through the roof, with the hits on History of Rap 5 with Justin Timberlake reaching over 4 million and Evolution of Hip Hop Dancing with Will Smith has gone over 10 million. Fallon and his writers truly know what they are doing in terms of keeping the audience interested.
What will push Fallon to truly rule the throne of king of late night? He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing and not deviate from it. He has the charisma and the dedicated audience to keep it going. He also has the marketability and the ideas to keep an audience involved.
To some, Fallon already has taken the throne. But on his heels? The aforementioned Kimmel and newcomer Seth Meyers may be able to unthrone Fallon one day. However, that day is nowhere near.