The Smartest Thing Jimmy Fallon Did on His First Tonight Show

Via: Tuned In

I said last week that I wasn’t going to review Jimmy Fallon’s first Tonight Show, and I’m still not, because 1) I’m on vacation, 2) it looks like he’s (rightly) aiming for a scaled-up version of the show he was already doing, and 3) reviewing a late-night show after the first episode is like reviewing a restaurant after checking your coat. But I was struck by one small, but in retrospect very important, thing that Fallon did starting out: He introduced himself. Not as in “Hi, I’m Jimmy Fallon, and I’m looking forward to this!” He very deliberately walked the audience through who he was, who his supporting stars were, and what kind of show he was going to do. He literally, at one point, pretty much explained how a late-night show works, down to the fact that a host comes out ¬†from behind a curtain and tells topical jokes. At first blush, it seemed incredibly obvious. It may just have been incredibly brilliant. Consider the situation a new host like Fallon walks into. He’s starting a show in a time slot where millions of fans just saw a popular show, their show, a show that ran for two decades and put them to bed at night, get cancelled. (“The Tonight Show” didn’t get cancelled, sure. But “Jay Leno” did.) He has a job akin to a politician accepting his party’s nomination after a hard primary fight, or the new leader of a small conquered nation, or the CEO of a company that was just acquired. Leno said he was OK with leaving Tonight, but that doesn’t mean his fans were OK with it. Fallon’s job–well, one of many–was to make them OK with him. So each introduction Fallon made was a chance to frame the story, from the beginning, in a way that could make these longtime Tonight viewers–many of them older–comfortable with him, even while he hopefully brought in new ones. Leno was the host for Middle America, the jovial guy who liked cars–just like America likes cars!–the

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