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.
For some reason, NBC insists Jimmy Fallon is the new Johnny Carson. In order to make those beliefs clearer, the Peacock Network will change the “with” in The Tonight Show With Jay Leno to “starring” for Jimmy Fallon’s tenure, which conjures up images of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Obviously, Jay Leno’s name will no longer be in the show’s title.
It may seem like an argument over semantics, but NBC changing “with” to “starring” is a big deal because it is symbolic. Bringing “starring” back into The Tonight Show title makes it seem like NBC wants to get away from Jay Leno’s tenure and Conan O’Brien’s already forgotten time as host. However, the network cannot relive the past. In fact, there are several reasons why a show starring Jimmy Fallon is a bad idea.
Once again, Jay Leno declares that he lives solely off the money he makes from stand up comedy. This time he made the claim in The Seattle Times, even though the story can be found online at the Boston Herald’s website. At least, Leno didn’t repeat that he has never touched his Tonight Show money.
Despite being a David Letterman and Conan O’Brien fan, I don’t completely hate Jay Leno because I don’t know him personally. However, when Leno makes comments about how he lives off of the money he earns from doing stand up comedy, I want to scream.
We get it Jay. You’re rich. I’m sure comedy clubs are paying you more than the struggling comics barely making a living. You’re the host of the freakin’ Tonight Show. It sounds impressive when someone says “Jay Leno performed here last week” because millions of Americans watch you every night. You probably make several thousand of dollars per stand up gig because of it. No one thinks you’re struggling to get by on your stand up money. Besides, you have an obscene number of cars, so shut up.
Another thing Leno needs to stop saying is “I’ve always looked at TV as a temporary job.” It is for some people. As Team Coco can attest, he’s not one of them. He managed to lose The Tonight Show, bomb in primetime, and then get The Tonight Show back. He makes 32 million dollars a year from television and apparently doesn’t spend any of it or spends it all on cars. I don’t know which one. Either way, if he loses The Tonight Show tomorrow, it’s not like he’s going to be standing on the welfare line because his stand up alone makes him wealthier than most people.
I know for some people it is hard to believe that Johnny Carson has not hosted The Tonight Show in 20 years. While I am too young to remember Johnny, I am aware of his legacy. As a David Letterman fan, I constantly hear Dave talk about how Johnny is the only true King of Late Night. To remember Johnny and his legacy, here is his appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. Johnny even brings his own desk.
Part 2 of the video is after the link.