This past Monday, Jimmy Fallon debuted as Late Night host on NBC. I didn't watch that night, when Fallon hosted Robert De Niro (normally a reluctant talk show guest to begin with, but I digress) and Justin Timberlake (always a pro), but I did watch Tuesday night, when he brought on his former "Weekend Update" co-anchor Tina Fey and Jon Bon Jovi. And yeah, I know: these things take time to come together, Conan was horrible for about a year, etc. etc. I get it. I still think it's worth poining out a couple of things.
The comedy bits weren't horrible, but...Fallon's opening monologue was hit or miss, which I guess is to be expected. I don't remember any of his jokes the next morning, but that's not really unusual. Not to let him off the hook or anything, because I do know there were still some horrible jokes in there, but just saying.
After going back to the desk Fallon did a segment involving fictional Facebook status updates for members of the audience. This had the feel of the sort of thing Conan would do in concept, except for the punchline where NYC Mayor Bloomberg was revealed to be in attendance. If it was O'Brien doing the bit, he would have gleefully capped it off with a D-Lister like James Lipton or someone. And he probably would have gone for a much simpler conclusion to the bit, but ultimately one that would have been better than Fallon's giddy green-screen jokes, which are as old as the green screen itself at this point (or at least as old as the film version of Wayne's World), and served as yet more depressing evidence that the only currency remaining between people my age is shared nostalgia, which I personally find increasingly tiresome. And he seemed a little too in awe of Bloomberg, which brings up Fallon's other weak point:
Fallon is a little too impressed by his guestsI would have to assume that Tina Fey was booked on the show to help put Fallon at ease; they worked together for a while and, assuming they didn't spend the entire segment on inside baseball, it would seem an easy bet to succeed. But somehow, it didn't quite come together, in part because out of nowhere, Fallon suddenly started gushing over her. He did the same thing when talking to Jon Bon Jovi - he started by complimenting him on his charity work and then just started talking about how wonderful he is. Being deferential and complimentary is one thing, but his manner goes a bit beyond that. He's not even kissing ass, really. Instead he's more starstruck, which might be an endearing trait in life, but not necessarily great television. Alan Sepinwall brought up "The Chris Farley Show," and that seems about right.
But, again, it is early. We're willing to give him a fairly long leash, and we'll check back in with him in a few months.