On March 2, 2009, Jimmy Fallon made his debut as host of Late Night, replacing Conan O'Brien.
On February 7, 2014, Fallon served as host of Late Night for the last time. Since he's taking over as host of The Tonight Show on February 17, it's not goodbye. Nonetheless, it is an end, and those can be bittersweet.
Here's my post from 2009, about Fallon's first show:
On Monday, the Jimmy Fallon era of Late Night began.
From what I've seen so far, the reviews are not exactly glowing.
I have to agree. It was a tough first show.
It began with Conan O'Brien in Fallon's dressing room. That was funny, a nice way to hand over the torch.
Fallon's monologue wasn't great. With the help of house band, The Roots, there was a "slow jam" news segment. I didn't think that was all that great.
Another bit highlighted a target demographic -- blonde moms. It was pointless.
A game with audience members, "Lick it for $10," was really bad. Three people from the audience licked items, like a lawn mower and a goldfish bowl, to earn $10. They did the licking to a drum roll and then the tape was replayed in slow motion with porn soundtrack type music. I don't think we'll ever see that bit again. It sucked.
Robert DeNiro was Fallon's first guest. The joke was DeNiro didn't talk much. That was kind of predictable. Surprisingly, DeNiro was in a taped comedy bit, "Space Train," supposedly a clip of a movie he and Fallon did together. It really was lame.
Justin Timberlake was the second guest. (DeNiro moved down the couch rather than leaving.) Timberlake was more energetic and entertaining than DeNiro. He and Fallon did a little reprise of the bit they did a couple of times on Saturday Night Live, "The Barry Gibb Talk Show." Related to that, Timberlake presented Fallon with an autographed picture of Barry Gibb.
Van Morrison was the musical guest. And that was it.
I know I'm sounding pretty negative, actually really negative.
But I think Fallon will succeed. He's likable, and he is funny.
It takes a while for a host to settle in to a late night talk show. He has to get his own rhythm going and develop comedy bits and characters that the audience will embrace. It would be impossible for Fallon to waltz in and replace an established show like Conan O'Brien's version of Late Night. It took a couple of years before O'Brien seemed remotely at ease with his hosting gig, and things eventually turned out pretty well for him.
Fallon has an advantage over O'Brien as a rookie host in that he is already familiar. O'Brien's face and personality were virtually unknown to TV viewers. That was really a jolt when O'Brien took over the reins from David Letterman.
As rocky as his first show was, I think Fallon will work through the transition relatively smoothly. He'll get comfortable and the audience will get comfortable and all will be well at Late Night.
Some of my predictions were right. Some weren't.
Boy, time flies.
Five short years later, Fallon's stint as Late Night host is done, something I doubt would be the case if Conan O'Brien had remained as host of The Tonight Show. But as it turns out, Fallon is getting the prize.
I'll really miss Jimmy Fallon's Late Night.
The final show was so much better than the first. It was a fitting finale.
Fallon was quite emotional after his monologue, when he got behind the desk and began thanking people, mentioning previous hosts and personalities of Late Night, as well as new host Seth Meyers.
Fallon did his popular "Thank you notes" bit, a regular Friday thing. It was sweet that he did one suggested by his sister, Gloria.
Andy Samberg was his last first guest. Apparently, years ago, Fallon recommended Samberg for SNL. It was nice all around.
Then, the always amusing and very likable Steve Higgins, Jimmy's "Ed McMahon" of sorts, was in the guest chair after the commercial break. Higgins had some very nice, heartfelt words for Jimmy. Three clips - Higgins' pants unexpectedly falling down, Jimmy getting startled during the "12 Days of Christmas Sweaters" bit, and a shot of Quest choking - were next. I remember seeing each of those, laugh out loud funny the first time and funny now.
The show ended, "The Last Waltz," with The Muppets and Jimmy performing "The Weight," with Jimmy on drums, channeling Levon Helm.
After the song, Jimmy walked out of the old studio and down the hall to his new home. He opened the door, marked with "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." As Jimmy entered, Higgins, The Roots, cast, and crew were inside. All cheered, including Jimmy.
It was a great ending to a very enjoyable show. It was a little sad but that was erased by the excitement of what's to come.