To be perfectly honest, I don’t watch a whole lot of TV. Don’t get me wrong; I knew the Tonight Show existed. I’d just never watched it in any form except short YouTube clips of interviews with my favourite actors. I’d never paid attention to the host. So when I was asked to write about the change in host from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon, I had to do a little research. Chiefly, this consisted of watching both hosts at work and working my compare and contrast muscles.
It seems Fallon’s got a lot going for him. For one thing, he’s hilarious. His comedy background shows through in that he’s not afraid to ask interesting questions with funny answers. Fallon isn’t afraid to make a fool of himself, which I saw clearly in a sketch about a fake teen talk show called Eww, starring Will Ferrell and Fallon in drag, as well as Michelle Obama. Laughter is a great way to win an audience’s heart, as are celebrity interviews. So far, Fallon’s doing everything right.
The humour that Fallon’s Tonight Show depends on has a serious side to it, however. In his interview with the first lady, Fallon asked a perfect balance of personal and professional questions, discussing her list of firsts (First meal she cooked? Pasta) and the development of her work in getting young people off the couch—a project Fallon himself is involved in.
The biggest problem I can see emerging from the change in hosts is generation conflict. On his version of the Tonight Show, Leno asked much more traditional questions than Fallon, focussing more on a person’s political views, career path, and future goals than the details of their personalities. Somehow, I can’t see Eww having any entertainment value for my parents or grandparents, but I was nearly on the floor.
Ultimately, it’s a matter of taste. I must say that Fallon might have me hooked, especially if he continues to provide such dynamic and entertaining interviews after his first couple of weeks on set.