Blog Post

Jimmy Fallon Plays It Safe, Not Funny, On Late Night

NTV StationJimmy Fallon’s time on Saturday Night Live showcased him as a good-looking guy with no real acting ability, solid comedic timing and a tendency to mug for the camera. Thank the Lord someone noticed and decided to give him a talk show.

While Fallon won’t be taking over Late Night until 2009, when Conan O’Brien officially succeeds Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show, he’s getting a head start on figuring out his show online.

Except, no. Not really. Back in July, Lorne Michaels promised that Fallon and his team would be producing 5-10 minute episodes of the new Late Night for web distribution. But in the time since that announcement the Fallon online experience has been downgraded from full-scale production to a behind-the-scenes look at the show in development: a making-of blog.

So what’s the reality of this first installment? Jimmy Fallon gives you a tour of the in-construction studio, still filled with NBC News crap, and then introduces you to his house band, the Roots. The Roots are cool, but that’s because the Roots are always cool. The rest is just Jimmy vlogging, and not particularly well, either. Because here’s the key thing: he doesn’t tell one joke. He doesn’t try and make us laugh once. And, I’m sorry, isn’t that the whole point?

Also, the Dove partnership is puzzling. Does NBC really think that women over 25 are the actual target audience for this show? I would have thought they’d aim the sponsorship at men aged 18-35 (traditionally late night’s highest demographic). Though perhaps I’m being sexist. Who’s to say men aged 18-35 aren’t passionate about skin care?

If Late Night With Jimmy Fallon were truly experimenting with online content as originally promised, we could have ended up with a show optimally tailored to web syndication, that understood what plays for Internet audiences and what doesn’t better than any other TV series. But this behind-the-scenes approach is the definition of playing it safe — it looks like when it comes to understanding the online world in late night, Spike Feresten will continue to be tops.

March 2009 is still a ways off, and perhaps before then Fallon will reapproach this web series and deliver on promises to play with the medium. But for right now, no points for the minimal effort here.

This review, along with more details about the show, can be found at NewTeeVee Station.

11 Responses to “Jimmy Fallon Plays It Safe, Not Funny, On Late Night

  1. Alliedslguiohle:)

    in reply to the first commenter,
    im a girl and yea i think hes cute but im not like in love with him…ew
    hes just freaking hilarious!!:)
    his “thank-you notes” god theyre funnyyy
    he is doing the best he can (which is fantastic) and that is all people should judge him on:)

  2. Geeze, Conan playing to seniors….. Kimmel and
    Carson they are terrible. Adult swim and Redeye might be the only options (3 am is hard sometimes). Network tv sucks anyway.

    Conan’s writers are great. Abstract, dark, insane writing. Can a guy who’s funiest moments are him cracking up and breaking character in the background of the ‘cowbell’ skit pull it off? Hell, if I just wanted to watch interviews I’d watch the Tonight Show.

    I never really considered ‘the Roots’ a group of veteran studio musicians. Are they going to play the same material every night? Can they back up all genres of music? Am I completely out of the demographic? Do the NBC execs rely on their 12 year old grandkids ideas of what they think are funny. I’m sure NBC will continue like Carson or ABC with Kimmel and let it keep going for 5 years before they do anything.

    All I can say is I’ll give it a shot, but don’t forget the demos for conan. They’ll rewatch the Family Guy episode they watched 3 hours earlier ( and have seen 75 times). Just like when Carson comes on the air.

  3. Jimmy Fallon and his wife first met The Roots last Memorial Day Weekend when they performed at the Jazz Reggae Festival @ UCLA. The Roots played an amazing set, and Fallon instantly hit it off with them backstage. They’ve been in touch ever since, and now The Roots are Fallon’s in house band for his late night TV show

  4. I’ve mentioned this in a couple other blogs but I think you should keep watching. There are many things planned in the vein of what you’re talking about above.

    Check out tonight’s show – noted video blogger Steve Garfield gets a shout-out + more fun stuff.

    Also, there are jokes. :)

    Big fan of the site from my AOTS days – keep up the great work.


    Gavin Purcell
    Co-Producer “Late Night w/ JF”

  5. Jason Harris

    Sounds like what you’d expect from Jimmy Fallon. It’s a stroke of genius to sell ads towards women over 25, because honestly, nobody watches him who has a sense of humor, it’s girls who think he’s “so cute!”

    Although I think that ship sailed about the time Fever Pitch came out, but hey I’m not a network exec. Combine that with not at all funny pretty boy Carson Daly and they have a nice 90 minute block of horrible TV with handsome hosts.