Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jimmy Fallon: Nervous but happy

Critical round-up of Fallon's debut show. The consensus seems to be a B-/C+: overly scripted, Fallon was nervous, the audience participation bits and monologue were lame, but the host's likability could ultimately carry the day.

"Everyone's first day on the job is bound to be a bit awkward, and even though Fallon has spent months trying out ideas for Late Night on his website, he still looked nervous, his eyes locked onto the cue cards more frequently than at us. He did an ultra-ordinary monologue -- one liners about President Obama and the deficit that sounded like material Jay Leno's writers had faxed over from L.A. ... There was also an audience-participation segment, 'Lick It For Ten,' in which a few folks from the crowd came onstage to lick things like a lawn mower and a goldfish bowl, and Fallon gave them each ten bucks."
-Ken Tucker, EW.com

"Sweaty, tense, uptight, nervous, wound-up, keyed up -- pick an adjective. Any one of them would describe Fallon's demeanor on opening night... On a late-night show, either the non-interview comedic bits have to be inspired, or the interviews have to be smooth (in a perfect world, both halves of the late-night formula succeed). But, with a few exceptions, neither worked all that well during Fallon's first show. The comedy frequently fell flat, and as a host, Fallon is underwhelming at the moment. "
-Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune

Fallon... returned to the air riding a wave of good will and, after weeks of webisodic testing on the Internet, demonstrated a certain comfort in the role... though his opening night had disappointments, none were crushing or looked potentially fatal. Once Fallon relaxes, hunkers down and lightens up, the new 'Late Night' could win over many a semi-conscious heart and mind."
-Tom Shales, Washington Post

"Fallon went out and did a monologue, delivering mostly bad jokes as stiffly as we might have expected from a guy who's not a stand-up comedian. Although perhaps more stiffly than we might have expected from someone with all that 'SNL' experience... The only time Fallon's 'Late Night' had any real energy was when guest Justin Timberlake was on, and that was because Timberlake seemed so comfortable -- perhaps because so much of his interaction with Fallon was clearly rehearsed... What was most troubling about Fallon's underwhelming debut wasn't just that it was sooooo scripted, but that the script was so lame."
-Scott D. Pierce, Deseret News

"Fallon appeared nervous from start to finish, which is understandable given the inevitable first-night jitters and the pressures of stepping into such a high-profile gig. But throughout the hour, he failed to reveal glimmers of charisma beneath his anxiety -- the Fallon we might encounter on less nerve-wracking nights. With his wide eyes and soft voice, he was just kind of vacant, as blandly nondescript as his predecessor, Conan O’Brien, was present and sharp... Perhaps if the writers step up their game and Fallon relaxes, “Late Night” will find a groove. Maybe the producers should give Fallon a sidekick, someone with whom he can josh and tease. As it is, he seems like a lone deer in the spotlights."
-Matthew Gilbert, Boston.com

"On his opening night, he seemed nervous but happy... It was not a bad beginning, in spite of offering notoriously poor interview Robert De Niro as the first guest... A series of pre-premiere 'test shows'... allowed the host to hit the ground running, or at least not stumbling."
-Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

"He certainly looks eager to make this work -- the dressed up coat and tie look suits him. He has the potential to be a funny presence. But he has to work on the interviewing skills and develop some kind of sincere curiosity about the people he invites on. He could learn from anybody else on TV, even Carson Daly."
-Roger Catlin, Hartford Courant

Highlights and ratings (they were good!) at The Live Feed.


  1. Anonymous said...

    I agree with the reviews. His interviewing was non-existent, but De Niro as a first guest is a tough one and it was a bad idea. He barely talks. His joke delivery sucked too, but he was better on the second show.