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Reinventing the Tonight Show

By Carissa  •   February 22, 2014

Can you feel that? There's been a shift in the winds of late night television and it's blowing in a breath of fresh air.

We all have our memories of the Tonight Show. For some of us, this means watching with our parents until they finally tell us to go to bed, and we begrudgingly listen. Others of us have watched from the very beginning. Either way, it's safe to say this show is an icon and that's not about to change.

Monday, February 17th, 2014 marked the day when the Tonight Show transitioned from a twenty-two year run with Jay Leno (give or take seven odd months while Conan O'Brien was on board), to the multi-talented comedian Jimmy Fallon. If you aren't sure if you've heard of Fallon before, check him out. He's been on the scene for quite a while – most notably his work with Saturday Night Live (SNL), and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

The Tonight Show is touted to be the longest running, regularly scheduled television program in the United States, spanning seven decades. Now, if that's not impressive, we don't know what is. During those years, the show has seen six hosts: Steve Allen (1954-57), Jack Paar (1957-62), Johnny Carson (1962-92), Jay Leno (1992-2009,2010-14), Conan O'Brien (2009-10), and now Jimmy Fallon.

With Fallon's takeover, for the first time in forty years the Tonight Show has returned to where it began; New York City. The move itself brings renewed excitement, energy, and much needed enthusiasm to the show, whose ratings with younger audiences had been dwindling.

Fallon's child-like inquisitiveness and boundless energy gives him a huge cross-generational appeal, unlike some of his predecessors. His humor seems to know no limits, and yet he's more inclusive with his presentation, making him very accessible. You can't help but like the man. For younger generations, he's been able to tap into social media like a pro, boasting 1.6M Facebook Likes, 12M Twitter followers, 2M YouTube subscribers and 1.3M Instagram followers. Fallon's robust online presence puts him in a position to thrust the Tonight Show further into the reaches of the Internet than ever before. Which, let's face it, is just as important in this digital age as the 11.3 millions viewers the show is claiming for the first night.

Across the Internet reviews are coming in praising the comedian's spin on the show, and with good reason. He began his first show in a humble, down-to-earth manner. The gravity of the moment, and responsibility he has inherited was palpable, making him identifiable to anyone who's ever faced an uphill battle or momentous occasion. (He has some mighty shoes to fill, after all.)

So far, he's pulling it off extremely well. His first show included an entourage of cameos ranging from Robert De Niro, to Mariah Carey, to even Lady GaGa and Stephen Colbert – and all that was just a teaser. His first real guest was the ever-impressive Will Smith, with musical guests U2; who played their song with an amazing scenic sunset behind them at the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, seventy stories up Rockefeller Center. Both the music and the view were breathtaking. Check out the Tonight Show website(http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/), if you missed seeing the show when it aired.

With only one week under his belt, Fallon is a still a Tonight Show newbie. But one thing is certain, it's been a successful first week and he's definitely meeting and exceeding expectations across the board.

What are some of your fond memories of the Tonight Show? Who is your favorite host? Are you looking forward to seeing what Jimmy Fallon will bring to the table in the coming weeks?


is an passionate author and freelancer from Minnesotan with a focus in creative writing.


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