Jimmy Fallon and “The Tonight Show” Legacy

In less than a month, Jimmy Fallon will host his first episode of The Tonight Show. While no one knows for sure what sketches will follow Jimmy to his new show, we do know that it’s time to say good-bye to The Tonight Show your parents and grandparents knew. The Tonight Show lost its prestige a long time ago, through a combination of botched handovers and the overcrowding of late night talk shows. It’s time to stop pretending that the spot after the 11 o’clock news is when everyone is watching and embrace the internet. Jimmy Fallon has proven he knows how to create synergy between his role as a late night talk show host and, in the realm of late night, a young web-savvy comedian.

Anyone who is younger than 35 thinks of The Tonight Show as another boring talk show. NBC needs to update it. The network failed miserably with Conan O’Brien because, while Conan understand his audience, he comes from a generation that still thinks of The Tonight Show as the gold standard. Jimmy never found that to be true, which will work for and against him.

When it comes to his new gig, Jimmy’s lack of pretentiousness will mean that very little will change in how he presents himself. Some sketches may be dropped and his crew may be able to do more with a bigger budget, but Jimmy will still be his goofy game-playing self. His biggest problem will be the fact that his show relies a lot on going viral. The internet plays a huge part in everything Jimmy does, whether it’s #hashtag or simply promoting the show with short video clips. Jimmy will lose many older viewers, who will be driven to Letterman or will fall asleep an hour earlier, and he may not gain enough younger viewers to make up for that loss. Teenagers and twentysomethings know that you don’t have to bother watching a show when all the good parts will be up on the internet tomorrow.

Unlike what Conan did, Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show will probably be Late Night with Jimmy Fallon an hour earlier. He has no reason to change, especially since he’s never had a problem attracting big name guests, but that’s not going to draw viewers away from their laptops and tablets to their TV screens. The Tonight Show name lives on, but it’s no longer special. The show has become little more than a promotion for NBC’s Late Night guys.

About Allison Lips

I am the Toastmasters District 83 Public Relations manager and President of Freehold Phrasers.

Posted on January 31, 2014, in Comedy, Late Night, NBC, Network Television, Talk Shows and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I actually agree. I can watch Fallon on YouTube for hours at a time, but I would never stay up .late to watch him on television (and I am 45). At the same time he is not very controversial, is a known quantity and a safe play for NBC.

    • I am glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. Usually, I deal with people who either love Fallon, not realizing there’s a difference between TV and the internet, or who hate Fallon for being Jimmy Fallon. His show isn’t the greatest, but his viral videos strike a chord with the internet.

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