February 27, 2014 by Jessa Eskin
After one week of Jimmy Fallon hosting “The Tonight Show,” it seems that Jay Leno may be left in the dust of Fallon’s wit and antics. The first week of Fallon’s “Tonight Show” pulled in an average audience of 8.8 million viewers. Those numbers are quite shocking considering the show’s air time was pushed back from 11:35 p.m. to midnight due to the Sochi Winter Olympics. Admittedly, having his opening week timeslot follow the Olympics broadcast may have helped Fallon by giving him a boost in viewers and ratings.
Fallon gave a nod to past “Tonight Show” hosts, including Johnny Carson, the original Steve Allen and, most recently, Jay Leno. If the first week of this new “Tonight Show” is any precursor of Fallon’s era of hosting, the show should be immensely successful.
Leno hosted the show for 22 years with high ratings, but he began to face criticism for lacking the comedic quip and interview skills of rivals David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel. Fallon brings not only a background in stand-up and sketch comedy, but also an energetic demeanor. At 39, Fallon is 24 years younger than his predecessor, and his youthfulness sure showed in multiple acts this past week. He also brought “The Tonight Show” back to its roots in New York City after it had been in Los Angeles for 42 years.
The all-star week of guests opened Monday night with Will Smith. Fallon and Smith performed “The Evolution of Hip Hop Dance,” chronicling dances such as the “stanky leg” and the “Carlton,” dressed in one-shouldered overalls on top of ‘90s-printed t-shirts. Tuesday featured the ever-great Jerry Seinfeld, as well as a surprise visit from Kristen Wiig perfectly dressed as Harry Styles.
Another noteworthy skit from the first week was a Twitter conversation between Jonah Hill and Fallon where they spoke using hashtags. Then there was the surprise appearance of Michelle Obama in one of Fallon’s recurring skits, “Ew” — not to mention, she was alongside Will Ferrell. While it was slightly nerve-wracking to see what the typically over-the-top Ferrell was going to do with the composed First Lady, the two put on an amusing performance with Fallon.
The week concluded with the multitalented Justin Timberlake. Besides being a Grammy award-winning musician, Timberlake has also proven to be an exceptional comedian, such as when he was the host and musical guest of Saturday Night Live. He was Fallon’s only guest on Friday night, and the two performed “The History of Rap Music 5,” highlighting music from Snoop Dogg to Notorious B.I.G to Outkast.
The duo debuted their first volume of “The History of Rap Music” in 2010, and it was a viral sensation. Timberlake amazingly performed the skit with Fallon, sat down for an interview, and performed a song from his most recent album, “The 20/20 Experience,” all before going on stage that night at Madison Square Garden.
Catch Fallon on “The Tonight Show,” weeknights at 11:35 p.m.