Watching Jimmy Fallon act like an adult was a little jarring, especially after seeing him break character in pretty much every Saturday Night Live sketch he was in.
But with a mostly straight face, Fallon stepped up to the four leaf clover monologue spot on “The Tonight Show” Monday and served as a sight for sore eyes.
Those sore eyes belonging to 11.3 million viewers, more than “The Tonight Show” has gotten in five years. A younger generation followed the “Late Night” host to the earlier time slot, something the show had been missing for years due to shows like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report” who have notoriously young audiences.
But it didn’t look like they were going down without a fight, as Stephen Colbert threw a bucket of pennies on him and said, “Welcome to 11:30, b*tch!” during the show.
The joke was part of a nearly four minute bit where celebrities walked onstage to pay off the $100 bet they made that Fallon would never host The Tonight Show, and it included Kim Kardashian, Robert De Niro, Lady Gaga, Seth Rogen and many more.
By the end of the bit, Fallon had $1,400, which is either very discouraging or hilarious.
It was Fallon’s self-deprecating humor, or “not afraid of emotion” as the Chicago Tribune put it, that set his show apart from the hosts in the past.
But really, it came across as a little too gimmicky.
The first few episodes of “The Tonight Show” featured the giggling host and a slew of topical Olympics jokes, but instead of the political-heavy material associated with the show, writers stuck to pop culture references, like the reenactment of a scene from “The Bachelor”.
And not only did Fallon start his run as host with the high energy Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing with Will Smith that felt very odd on “The Tonight Show”, but he also brought bits like “Hashtag”, “Ragtime Gals” and “Superlatives” from his own show to the new stage.
He also made Kristen Wiig wear a wig and “act” like Harry Styles (but really just give one word answers while they giggled into their cue cards.)
It was funny, and it was current, but it wasn’t “The Tonight Show”. And maybe that’s what this generation wanted, and it was definitely where we were headed. A lot of night shows now revolve around the interviews, which isn’t new, but there’s a distinctive line forming between celebrities who will visit shows like “The Colbert Report” and those that won’t.
So for now, you’re better off getting your topical late night humor fix from Stewart or Colbert.