Jimmy Fallon, Much Improved: Station Conversation

NTV StationThe new year means new opportunities, even for web content you’ve previously dismissed. And so in today’s Station Conversation, Jill Weinberger and Liz Shannon Miller revisit future Late Night host Jimmy Fallon’s ongoing web prelude to his on-air series — which definitely gets their vote for Most Improved.

Jill: So, Liz, a little bird told me that you’re handing out new chances to certain online video personalities. New chances to win your heart, that is.

Liz: Yes. Well, really, what it comes down to is a basic fact: peronally, I’m awful at making first impressions, so in the name of karma maybe I should do people like Jimmy Fallon a solid and reevaluate their flegling web efforts.

Jill: Yeah, you were not kind to Jimmy the first time around.

Liz: To be fair, I thought he had everything he needed to be great on the Internet. He just needed to, you know, do it.

Jill: So what do you think of Jimmy now?

Liz: Well, let me ask you what you think, as you’d never watched the man’s video blog before.

Jill: My feelings are pretty mixed. He wavers between these two asthetics, a sweet everyman-who-got-his-own-show-and-wants-to-make-it-accessible thing, and a stagier, comic, The Office-meets-late-night thing. I think either could work, but as it is, each one is only working part of the time.

Liz: Which do you prefer?

Jill: Probably the first one, if only because I’m growing a little tired of staged, awkward, behind-the-scenes comedy, even when it’s good. And this is only maybe 70 percent good, anyway. Honestly, I think all the videos could use better editing.

Liz: To be tighter, you mean?

Jill: Yes. Fewer bits overall but more bits that work would be better. Hey, look at me! I discovered the secret to successful comedy.

Liz: You’re like a comedy Yoda, but taller.

Jill: Speaking of Yoda, this edition of Ask Jimmy (replete with Star Wars talk), is a big example of stuff that could have been trimmed, I think.

Liz: It’s cool that they’re incorporating video comments from viewers, but the best bit of Ask Jimmy is when he reads and reacts to a text comment. Because Jimmy Fallon, blessedly, is at least funnier on camera than his fans.

Jill: I guess, if we’re being fair, the one kind of comic training SNL doesn’t give you is training on when to cut a bit.

Liz: True. But now I’m watching his resolutions, which are cracking me up. The more gimmicky these bits get, I think, the more compromised they are, but having a solid concept to anchor them goes a long way. His three-part trip home is fun.

Jill: Yeah, I liked the part with his parents. And his two-year-old impressions.

Liz: Plus, he put video of himself at age 17 on the Internet. I mean, I would never do that.

Jill: I think basically what we’re getting is sort of the blessing and the curse of the fact that Fallon is learning his way through both non-SNL comedy and online video. And he’s decided to have his growing pains in front of us.

Liz: And I’ll say it — this is dramatically improved from its launch. Just compare his first office tour to the new office tour. He actually does silly things and makes jokes and destroys things!

Jill: Much much improved, I agree. Here is my ruling: Much better than before, but I still find myself wanting to shout “CUT” at least once in most of the videos. However, I will keep watching and see where it goes.

Liz: Yeah, there are lots of things to nitpick, but the fact is that it’s a definite improvement, and the producers and Fallon all seem committed to growing and learning.

Jill: And, maybe, all this work ahead of time means when his show premieres, it’ll actually be good. I like that idea. So is there a side of Jimmy you’d like to see more of in these vids?

Liz: I think I prefer the quasi-behind-the-scenes stuff, like the water mug challenge. What we’re seeing is the evolution of Fallon’s on-air persona, in theory, and bits like that really do a nice job of gelling what that means.

Jill: Well, hopefully that’s not his real on-air persona in the Water Mug Challenge. Otherwise, he might be a little volatile for network late-night.

Liz: I like that, actually. I mean, Leno is still going to be on the air, so NBC will need the “snarky guy who might just take a swing at you” counterpoint.

Jill: For a bit, it’s fun. Hurling a mug of water in, say, Meryl Streep’s face in earnest … perhaps not a good career move.

Liz: She has it coming. America would cheer.

Jill: Meryl doesn’t take that kind of attitude. She’ll cut you. She’ll cut you where you stand. Fallon’s entire episode guide will go like this:
EPISODE ONE: Fallon tussles with Meryl Streep
EPISODE TWO: Memorial for Jimmy Fallon
EPISODE THREE: Late Night with Meryl Streep

Liz: Sounds like good video to me.

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