Jimmy Fallon: New Host, New Era

By Julia Ricci

The Tonight Show began a new era last week when Jimmy Fallon took over as host and so far, the transition has been seamless.

Audiences have watched Fallon excel as host of Late Night for the past five years. Fallon made it his mission to ensure everyone–guests and audience–had a blast. Games like catchphrase, beer pong, egg roulette, and charades; sketches like “Evolution of ___ Dancing” and “Real People, Fake Arms”; and recurring segments like “Thank You Notes” and “Hashtags” have reeled in millions of viewers and been cemented in pop culture. Thankfully, Fallon has confirmed that many of these bits would return on The Tonight Show, and we saw a few of them even in the first week:

    So far, Fallon has demonstrated the qualities of a wonderful host of The Tonight Show. On the February 17 premiere, he began by introducing himself, sidekick Steve Higgins, and house band The Roots to the audience. He even gave a shout-out to his parents and explained the show’s program step by step. By easing the audience in, he made sure new viewers felt welcomed and reassured loyal Fal-Pals that he is the same, familiar Fallon. The first episode (and first week) assured audiences that The Tonight Show is always a good time.

For decades, The Tonight Show has appealed to older viewers, especially when Jay Leno hosted. Even Johnny Carson, arguably the most beloved late night talk show host in history, attracted an older demographic. Fallon on the other hand has enticed young viewers not only with his youthful enthusiasm, but also through the application of social media. Team Fallon has utilized this platform in an original way that is unique to his hosting style. His weekly hashtags become worldwide trending topics within minutes and most of the show’s clips go viral within minutes. A Tonight Show app has been introduced as another way for fans to engage with the program. The only other show that comes close to Fallon’s social media success is that of former Tonight Show host Conan O’Brien’s–let’s hope Fallon’s hosting gig is more permanent. If there’s anyone who can introduce a new generation to The Tonight Show, it’s Jimmy Fallon.

At the opening of the inaugural program, Fallon mentioned that as a kid he asked his parents if he could stay up to watch Johnny Carson. He related this to today’s youthful generation by stating that it means a lot to him that some kid out there could be asking to stay up to watch him. Like Carson, Fallon possesses an incredible amount of down-to-earth charm– something Jay Leno could never claim. For this reason, viewers both familiar and new will have no trouble inviting Fallon into their homes and making him a part of of their nightly routines. Each host of The Tonight Show has left his mark on the program; now it’s Fallon’s turn to leave his own indelible legacy.