People in the New York area have a thing for Mallomars. Nabisco makes the chocolatey, marshmallowy goodness available only from September to March, so we have the entire summer to long for the cookies that go away because someone said “marketing gimmick.” In 2004, when Late Night with Conan O’Brien was sill on the air, Pierre Bernard addressed this issue as part of Pierre Bernard’s Recliner of Rage.
P.S. Stockpiling Mallomars doesn’t work because they are made to be eaten by the boxful.
Ever since 2005, Stephen Colbert has been ruling late night television on Comedy Central. Next year he will be leaving his post after ten years to take over for David Letterman on Late Show. This is a drastic change for Colbert, whose current show is a satirical version of The O’Reilly Factor. Will his current rapport with his audience get in the way of his success as himself on CBS?
Letterman announced his departure not even two months after Jimmy had taken over for Leno. I cannot say that I was surprised that by Letterman’s retirement. Everyone knew Fallon was going to be some serious competition. Fallon is more relevant and appealing to the precious 18-49 audience. He has a social media savviness that Letterman doesn’t have. So when Letterman “unexpectedly” announced his retirement, CBS needed a host that would supersede Jimmy’s popularity. Colbert already has a large and loyal audience from his show on Comedy Central, which make him a very good choice for Late Show.
Wow. David Letterman announcing his upcoming retirement shocked me. It shouldn’t have. We all knew it was coming. No one was under the impression Letterman would be hosting The Late Show until he dies. He’d host it until Jay Leno was out of the collective consciousness or dropped dead. Once Leno said goodbye to The Tonight Show stage one last time, Letterman’s days were numbered. All he did today was confirm everyone’s assumption.
When all is said and done, Letterman will have hosted a late night talk show for 33 years: 11 as host of NBC’s Late Night, the last 22 will be with The Late Show and CBS. It’s hard to believe that 5 years ago few people expected Letterman to surpass his idol Johnny Carson’s reign in late night, which was an impressive 30 years. Now, we’re wondering how CBS will fill the hole in their lineup when Letterman leaves next year.
I love Seth Meyers, but Late Night with Seth Meyers is mediocre. It’s so mediocre that I could only bring myself to watch two episodes for this review. That being said, the show has some incredible potential. Seth’s in the same situation Conan O’Brien was when he began hosting late night: having writing skills doesn’t translate into being a good performer.
Part of Seth’s problem is that he delivers the monologue like it’s a Weekend Update. Rapid fire one liners may work on The Tonight Show, but on Late Night we’re used to a monologue that’s delivered like a one-sided conversation. Seth understands it, but when he attempts to joke about a bombed joke, he just digs himself deeper. He’s trying his best, but he doesn’t know when to move on. Not helping things is that a lot of his jokes miss the mark. If I have to think about the logic behind your joke before I understand it, it’s not a good joke. Seth’s still has to figure out that a monologue full of “just for us” jokes doesn’t work for the 12:35 crowd.
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The Tonight Show fits Jimmy Fallon like a glove. It’s a perfect match that I wasn’t expecting. For me, Jimmy Fallon’s version of Late Night didn’t capture that show’s essence. During their times on Late Night, David Letterman and Conan O’Brien were the guys who came on after the show your dad watches. They were slightly edgy and a little left of the mainstream without completely alienating it. Jimmy swims in the middle of the mainstream and wholeheartedly embraces it. It wasn’t a good match for Late Night, but it’s exactly what The Tonight Show‘s about.
Unlike Dave and Conan, Jimmy was able to move his old show lock, stock, and barrel an hour earlier. There was no changing to appease middle America, but he acts enough like an overgrown frat boy to appeal to the college crowd. If Jay Leno is vanilla, Jimmy is vanilla with sprinkles. He’s inoffensive fun. Parents won’t have a problem having their kids stay up late Friday nights watching The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, whereas they shudder at the thought of a certain self-pleasuring recurring character from Conan.
Let’s get this out of the way, I’m a Conan O’Brien and David Letterman fan. For all intents and purposes, the media tells me I should despise Jay Leno. I don’t. He’s not my favorite comedian. I find what he did to David Letterman distasteful, but it’s been over 20 years and the two men now talk to each other again. I also think he should have left NBC after they handed The Tonight Show to Conan. However, things get nasty when two people are battling over their dream job. For years ago Jay came out looking bad, yet so did Conan. The real loser was NBC.
Instead of hating Jay, I understand that he’s vanilla. Something bland that the remains of an aging mainstream America falls asleep watching. I am not his target audience. In spite of it all, I watched the last Tonight Show with Jay Leno expecting something more than a typical show. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. NBC’s making a big deal about the changing of the guard at The Tonight Show, but Jay went out with a whimper. It was an average show that focuses more on the past than normal, which is saying something for a show hosted by a guy still making Monica Lewinsky jokes in 2001.
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.
Jimmy Fallon may have recently been voted most desirable celebrity neighbor because he’s so friendly, but last night’s The Best of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon made him seem stiff. To make matters worse, the special was too long. It clocked in at two hours and only contained brief segments of commentary from Jimmy. The majority of the special wasn’t new comedy. It was reshowing the old stuff. So when we weren’t relieving the last 5 years of Jimmy’s life, we saw a comedian out of his element saying “watch this cool/funny thing my crew and I did” and doing pratfalls in a desperate attempt to be funny.
Let’s be honest, Jimmy’s success isn’t because he’s the best late night host. Depending on your tastes, Jay Leno, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, or Conan O’Brien is the best. Then again, there are tons of people who will argue no one will ever be better than Johnny Carson. However, Jimmy’s show works because it’s unusual nowadays. For the most part, it’s a talk show with a few Saturday Night Live style sketches that gets celebrities to loosen up. No one else would get Tom Cruise to crack eggs on his head or Bruce Springsteen to sing Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair.”
It’s hard to believe that Conan O’Brien has had a late night talk show for 20 years. Granted, he’s had three of them: Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, and Conan, but that’s still no easy feat. He could have gone the way of Pat Sajak and Chevy Chase a long time ago. Actually, that was expected of him. Very few critics foresaw Conan having a long career and many, as demonstrated in this review from Entertainment Weekly, were unnecessarily harsh. It didn’t help that they were fueled by NBC’s decision to renew Conan’s Late Night contract on a weekly basis.
In hindsight, it is hard to watch Conan’s first night as host of Late Night, especially knowing the terrible treatment he received. Even hardcore Conan fans have to admit, on his first night, he was very green. To be fair, Conan did acknowledge it in a funny way and immediately addressed the fact that everyone kept hounding him with some variation of “better be as good as Letterman.” Conan had potential and viewers were willing to give him a chance, even though his bosses only kept renewing his contract because they had nothing else to throw on the air.
Yesterday, August 29, marked David Letterman’s 20th year hosting the Late Show on CBS. While fans are probably a little disappointed that Dave didn’t give in and do a retrospective episode or primetime special (Neither one was ever going to happen. This is Letterman we’re talking about.), there’s no reason we can’t, with the help of YouTube, take a look back at Dave’s time on CBS.
Dave may not have gotten The Tonight Show and NBC may have tried to sue him for using their intellectual property, but that didn’t stop Dave from bringing Larry “Bud” Melman, now using his real name, Calvert DeForest, to CBS. In fact, DeForest was the first person seen on the Late Show. Unfortunately, the clip below doesn’t have DeForest’s appearance on the first show, but it does have Ed Sullivan introducing Dave.