Jay Leno has stepped aside (again) from hosting “The Tonight Show.”
This time, however, it appears to be for good, as the aging comic gives way to former “Late Night” host and über talented Jimmy Fallon, who in turn yields his old job to “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) veteran Seth Meyers.
The late night shakeup is needed for NBC, a network whose most popular show is based on swivel chairs (sorry, “The Voice” fans) and that pays pseudo-celebrities to play games with contestants who can win $25,000 (ahem: the “Hollywood Game Night” abomination).
Fallon brings something vital to “The Tonight Show” that Leno lacked—talent.
Fallon shifts seamlessly among lip sync sessions with Paul Rudd, rapping with Justin Timberlake, break dancing with Will Smith and playing egg Russian Roulette with Tom Cruise.
During Fallon’s first “The Tonight Show,” he reminded us why he is the perfect fit. Visibly nervous during his monologue, Fallon came across as he always does, genuinely happy to be there. No late night talk show host brings as much energy as Fallon does, which rubs off on his guests. A-list celebrity after A-list celebrity paraded through “The Tonight Show” on opening night, all for one silly gag.
All Fallon has to do is keep up the phenomenal work he has done on “Late Night,” which he has so far, and he will be a mainstay at 11:35 p.m.
Meyers’ transition to his new job has not been quite so easy.
The former Weekend Update host and SNL head writer brings a wry, cynical sense of humor to the host chair. So far, Meyers’ monologues have been superb, in which the comedic skills he honed on SNL are most obvious.
However, while Meyers looks more at ease during his monologue than Fallon, Meyers has some work to do with his comedy sketches. Meyers’ “Fake of Florida,” a game where contestants are asked if a wacky Florida news story is fake or a real, though a decent premise, lasted about twice as long as it should have.
Overall, Fallon is a massive upgrade from the outdated Leno, and with given time, Meyers will be a suitable replacement for Fallon on “Late Night.”
Hopefully, Leno won’t try to strong-arm his way back onto “The Tonight Show”…again.