Jimmy Fallon’s first week sees him straddling Leno’s audience and his own fan base

Jimmy Fallon’s first five days as host of NBC’s Tonight Show have seen him attempting to strike a careful balance between the 11:35pm viewers he just inherited from Jay Leno, the 12:35am viewers he’s brought with him, and to some extent his longtime fans from his Saturday Night Live days a decade ago. In his inaugural Tonight Show episode, Fallon started off the show not by tooting his own horn but instead by painting himself and his cohorts as humble family men.

Fallon played up the fact that he’s from a small town of less than twenty thousand people, and featured his elderly parents in the audience. He then introduced his sidekick Steve Higgins as being from Iowa and having “wonderful kids.” The hip hop house band, The Roots, were introduced as being suitable for backing Tony Bennett. The intention was clear: Fallon wanted to sell Leno’s longtime midwest and small town audience on the idea that he and his crew, despite their New York City digs and twenty-first century humor, that they’re men of character. Selling them on the idea that he’s actually funny could come later.

The guests on opening night appeared to be aimed at Leno’s audience as well: Jerry Seinfeld, famous for being an everyman. Will Smith, who is these days about as mainstream-accepted as a rapper can be. And U2, which despite its progressive political leanings, still tends to play well with the 1980s nostalgia of American small towners. By the end of the week, Fallon had settled back into his own strengths and transitioned to a guest list which was more squarely aimed at ensuring he can keep the hipper audience he brought with him from the later time slot: First Lady Michelle Obama. Justin Timberlake. Old SNL cohort Kristin Wiig.

It’s a glance which he will have to continue to strike if he hopes to maintain Leno-like ratings of the long haul. Fallon’s strategy this far appears to have taken into account the fall of Conan O’Brien, who moved his own Late Night show to Los Angeles when he took over the Tonight Show, but otherwise essentially kept doing the same show he’d always been doing. He quickly lost much of Leno’s audience, to the point that Leno was subsequently squeezed back into a 10pm time slot before ultimately squeezing O’Brien off NBC entirely.

Leno was given the Tonight Show gig over David Letterman two-plus decades ago in part because it was believed that he could do a better job of straddling the middle of the road so as to amass an audience of big city viewers and small towners, liberals and conservatives, those on the coasts and in the midwest. NBC appears to believe Fallon can do the same. And while Fallon is simultaneously more hip and more quirky than Leno, his “man of the people” humility may well be what allows him to succeed. Jimmy Fallon’s first five episodes suggest that he is, at the least, accurately aware of the challenge at hand.

Will Stabley
Will Stabley is the Founder and Senior Editor of Stabley Times.
Will Stabley

10 Comments

  1. J Paul Kirkel on January 6, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    I really like what you’re doing in this column–calling out Amazon for a deliberate misrepresentation, an outrageously improper comparison, and a willful misleading of the consuming public.
    But calling what their claim a “lie” is simply false! You even admit as much when you state that their claim of 20% lighter is factually accurate– if so, it’s not a lie. You’re being almost as bad as they are by mis-characterizing what they’ve done! What you’ve written could even be libel…
    By the way, my iPad mini is much lighter than a Mercedes Benz!



  2. Mr Semantic on January 6, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    J Paul Kirkel  It is important that we use words correctly. The definition of lie (verb) is: tell an untruth, tell a lie, fib, dissemble, dissimulate, misinform, mislead, tell a white lie, perjure oneself, commit perjury, prevaricate; informal lie through one’s teeth, stretch the truth. As you see, the definition includes misinform, mislead. A ‘lie’ is usually assumed to mean a deliberate act. Is that not the case with Amazon?



  3. MelGross on January 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    It is a lie. The intent to mislead, when misrepresenting the facts is a lie. By not pointing out that their tablet is much smaller in area, they are eliminating the very thing that would let consumers know the truth.
    So their Ads are lies. I mentioned this to my wife the first time I saw these Ads.
    Its a shame that companies don’t have enough confidence in their products that they feel they must mislead the public in order to garner sales.



  4. Bill Palmer on January 6, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    J Paul Kirkel Amazon is using it ad to purposely pretend that the iPad Air and the Fire HDX are the same size. It’s a lie of omission.



  5. Brian on January 11, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    This commercial ticks me off so much. Such a deliberate attempt to mislead. It just seems unreal that ads like these can be aired.



  6. LeFrancoy on January 20, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    In Canada we have regulations that prevent advertisers to use trademarks and intellectual property that are not owned or licensed by the client. So we never see these kind of ads up north. And having seen this particular ad, I came to a similar conclusion as yours. Maybe it would be a good thing to have that regulation imported stateside ;¬)



  7. Jacque on January 22, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I find this website hilariously biased. You accuse tech journalists of bashing Apple products when the majority of what is out there is gushing praise for Apple no matter if all they do is improve one thing and then ask people to dump their old device for the new one with a new feature or two. This site wreaks of filthy Apple fanboyism.

    I like how you make up blatant lies about Samsung being worse than Apple despite plenty of evidence otherwise. Sad how the fanboys become desperate to defend their precious overpriced products when they’re being replaced by better, more open hardware that actually adapts to the consumer demand instead of telling the consumer what they want a la Apple style.



  8. LDBetaGuy on January 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    If I may continue the nit picking, the ad also shows the words “Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, thus, I believe, showing viewers the actual size of the HDX screen. True, the ad does not say that the iPad Air’s screen is the larger 9.7” size. Could we assume, though, that many folks  would do enough comparison research before making a tablet purchase to find out that the screens are different sizes? Many folks, I believe, are willing to give up some screen real estate for a tablet that is lighter weight and easier to hold.



  9. Catalysttgj on January 25, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    It’s amazing that there are people who don’t actually understand that there are different kinds of lies, but this might explain why America has crap advertisement on all day long getting away with this BS. Amazon has managed to stoop to infomercial level for their kindle product. I don’t use amazon much, but this sort of thing is going to make me carefully reconsider using them at all for anything.
    Considering amazon’s explosive growth, I’m beginning to see Amazon is really nothing more than the latest variation of Walmart… The online rendition!



  10. J Paul Kirkel on February 25, 2014 at 6:40 am

    @Mr Semantic J Paul Kirkel  Actually, you’re wrong!

    You need to get a new dictionary! 🙂

    A lie is an “intentionally false statement”.

    Even if some definition omits the intentional part, what Amazon said is NOT a false statement!