Jimmy Fallon gets Tonight Show run off to an outstanding start

Jimmy Fallon last night became the sixth man in 60 years to host The Tonight Show.

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Following the departure of longtime host Jay Leno, Fallon had a lot to prove in his first night.

If Jay Leno was like your mildly informative but lovable uncle from out West, Fallon is like the really likable kid from high school who you hoped would make a name for himself after graduation.

Fallon began his program with a very subtle monologue, giving some background about himself to new viewers, looking completely bewildered in the process.

Fallon didn’t rush out of the gate with jokes, choosing instead to tell the audience about his hometown and family — he even introduced the viewers to his parents.

But Fallon didn’t stop there, he took time to introduce the audience to his announcer and his family, and his new house band, The Roots.

“They can play with Tony Bennett, they can play with Jay-Z without blinking an eye,” Fallon said after introducing the band.

The likeable thing about Fallon is how earnest he appears on camera. For all I know, he could be a ruthless tyrant behind the scenes but, when he is on camera, he shines.

At the end of his opening monologue, Fallon began to choke up as he described watching The Tonight Show as a kid. He explained that his parents would let him stay up, but only for the monologue.

Now, almost 40 years old, Fallon was delivering his own Tonight Show monologue and wondered aloud if there were any kids out there whose parents had let them stay awake. Yes, it was corny and yes it may have been expected, yet Fallon still delivered the line and I bought it.

Ultimately, that is why he has risen so far among the ranks of pop-culture in such a short time. You want to believe that the story is true and, like Fallon, you hope that there is a kid who is having a similar experience. By balancing the perfect amount of “aw shucks” with positive social commentary, Fallon has created his very own comedy institution.

If you look at some of the popular bits from last night, the very thing that has made Fallon so popular online was on full display.

Throughout his time in late-night, Fallon has had a knack for getting popular celebrities to do things you may not expect. Near the top of the show, Fallon brought out Will Smith dressed in overalls to dance to a compilation of hip hop songs. Smith barely said a word; he left it all up to Fallon. Somehow Fallon had made one of the world’s most famous entertainers a prop.

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This continued later on when Fallon proclaimed that there were people out there that told him he couldn’t get to where he was that now owed him money. Next thing you know, an endless stream of news makers come out from behind the curtain to pay up. From Tina Fey and Seth Rogen to Lady Gaga and Robert De Niro, Fallon brought together a bunch of people who you may not otherwise see in the same place for what amounted to a quick two-minute bit. Simple as it may have been, it made people laugh and, unlike other talk-show hosts, it seems that is simply all Jimmy Fallon wants an audience to do.

And that’s perfect.

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