Murphy’s Law – One Shot: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

This was inevitable.

As longtime readers have undoubtedly surmised by now, I am not a Jimmy Fallon fan. I’ve taken shots at the guy in every single “Things that piss me off” column I’ve written, I mention the hate I have for him in my bio paragraph at the end of every article and in January I actually encouraged you fine readers to strap a bomb to your chest to keep NBC from giving Fallon the hosting gig.

But since none of you were brave enough to step up and risk a stint in federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison to keep this abomination from airing, I was left with no other option. So when Late Night with Jimmy Fallon debuted this past Monday, out of morbid curiosity and a sense of loyalty to those of you who enjoy it when I kick Jimmy Fallon, I had no choice but to give the show “One Shot” …

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
(NBC – Weeknights at 12:35 a.m.)

The show opened with Jimmy Fallon preening himself in front of the mirror in his dressing room. The camera pans out to reveal Conan O’Brien packing up the last of his belongings. Conan acts cold, Fallon acts douchey and the segment muddles along without any strong punchlines. (It’s a far cry from the opening segment in Conan’s first-ever Late Night show, where Conan nearly hung himself due to the pressure of replacing David Letterman.)

We then get the proper opening for the show. After a very Saturday Night Live-esque title sequence, Fallon hits the stage for his monologue wearing a black suit and a black tie, which seems appropriate since he is killing a beloved show.

Fallon smirks and stammers his way through a pretty standard opening monologue. He makes jokes about snow days, Rush Limbaugh and PCs. It’s not as bad as some of Jay Leno’s “women like to shop” jokes, but the punchlines are still overly predictable and not really even chuckle-worthy.

The only really strong bit in the opening segment was called “Slow Jammin’ the News.” Fallon, accompanied by The Roots, started discussing Congress’ resistance to Obama’s stimulus package in a sexy, Barry White style. Fallon would say a line, then Root’s frontman Tariq Trotter would back him up by singing a sexy line of his own. The whole thing ended with Tariq singing, “You can’t rush my stimulus, baby!” Having The Roots as a house band was a great idea to begin with (because they are awesome), but this bit shows that Tariq has some great comedy potential, a la Max Weinberg.

Fallon wraps up the monologue and heads over to his desk. His guests tonight are Robert De Niro, Justin Timberlake and Van Morrison. Clearly, NBC is stacking the deck in his favor.

Once behind his desk, Fallon says that is target demographic for the night is blonde mothers from Connecticut. This is allegedly funny. Fallon shows a group of blonde mothers in the audience, then shows a video package about blonde mothers, making sure to run the joke directly into the ground, even though it wasn’t much of a joke to begin with. He then awkwardly drums on his desk and says, “Come right back, please!” with just a little too much desperation in his voice.

Back from the break, Jimmy Fallon introduces a segment called “Lick It for 10.” He calls three members of the audience up to the stage and offers them $10 to lick a lawn mower, a printer/scanner/copier and a goldfish bowl, respectively. They all oblige. Funny, I’ve been telling Jimmy Fallon to lick my balls for years – I didn’t realize that all it took was a 10 spot.

Then, Fallon brings out his first guest – Robert De Niro, who is surly. It’s hard to tell whether he’s doing a bit or whether he’s really trying to figure out how his agent talked him into doing this show. Fallon starts the interview by mentioning that he’s been trading emails back and forth with De Niro all weekend. He does this in the same arrogant way that sportscasters do when mentioning that they talked to the players earlier in the week or the way James Lipton does when he’s talking about all of the famous actors he’s had on Inside the Actors Studio in the past.

A moment later, Fallon starts telling a story about when he was hanging out with Jack Nicholson (Fallon calls himself out for name-dropping, but continues just the same). Apparently, Fallon is so smug and insecure that interviewing Robert De Niro on his very own talk show is enough validation for him, so he feels the need to mention that he emails De Niro on the weekends and hangs out with Jack Nicholson in his spare time. His effort to put himself over instead of actually focusing on interviewing the A-list celebrity next to him was so distracting that I decided to start counting the number of times he said I, me or my during the interview. By my count (which could be slightly off since Fallon stuttered quite a bit), during the span of a six-minute interview, Jimmy Fallon mentioned himself 54 times. That’s an average of nine self-references per minute.

The highlight of the segment came moments after Fallon started talking about De Niro’s film Taxi Driver and his own movie Taxi (which again proves my point that he was more focused on putting himself over than on interviewing Robert Frickin’ De Niro). Fallon did a horrible impression of De Niro and then asked De Niro to do an impression of him. Without missing a beat, De Niro, in a whiny, nasally, Jerry Lewis-esque voice, began shouting, “I’m Jimmy Fallon!”

By the end of the segment, Fallon was absolutely covered in sweat and looked a mess. De Niro, on the other hand, was composed and laid back as always.

After commercials, the show came back and for some reason De Niro was still hanging around (I’m starting to wonder if Fallon slashed his tires and convinced De Niro to be a guest on the show while he was waiting for a tow truck). Fallon tells the audience that he and De Niro once did a movie together, which he just so happens to have a clip from. This clip is for a fake movie called Space Train and in the clip De Niro is the conductor of an intergalactic train for people who want to travel through space but are afraid to fly. Fallon plays a reluctant (and very sweaty) passenger. Even though De Niro slaps Fallon in the face during the clip, there is absolutely nothing funny about it. The sketch is so bad that it officially surpasses Meet the Fockers as De Niro’s worst career move.

The show goes off to commercial and one of the production assistants (most likely) takes a squeegee to Fallon’s head during the break.

Fallon’s next guest is Justin Timberlake. Instead of asking Timberlake about his music or his career, Fallon begins talking about sketches they did together on Saturday Night Live. At this point, I began to wonder why he even bothers to have guests – he could just sit and his desk and talk to himself about how great he is for the whole hour. Timberlake manages to get in a plug for a new reality show he is producing called The Phone (which actually seems intriguing). Then, Fallon talks him into doing impressions of John Mayer and Michael McDonald, both of which are hilarious. (Maybe they should have just given the show to Timberlake, who unlike Fallon, actually possesses talent.)

Van Morrison closes out the night with a song. His face was obscured by a black hat and glasses, so I’m not entirely convinced that it wasn’t really Colin Quinn pretending to be Van Morrison. Once Morrison finishes his song, Fallon, Timberlake and De Niro (who is apparently still waiting for that damn tow truck) all join him on stage as the credits begin to roll. Fallon closes out the show by awkwardly high fiving the audience. Once the show goes off the air, a maintenance crew hits the stage and begins mopping up all of Fallon’s sweat to ensure that none of The Roots slip and break their necks on the way to the dressing room.

Final Thoughts: The show itself wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. The biggest problem with the show is Jimmy Fallon, which is quite a big problem to have on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. All of the funny moments of the night came from other people – Tariq’s humorous vocals during the Slow Jammin’ segment, De Niro’s shrill impression of Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s killer John Mayer and Michael McDonald impressions.

Fallon himself didn’t really do anything funny, he just smirked and sweated his way through the whole show. And, worst of all, he got in the way of his guests during the interview segments because he was too focused on putting himself over. Who cares if he scores an interview with Robert De Niro if De Niro is only there to listen to Fallon’s stories about himself? Your host should be there to make the guests look good, not the other way around.

Obviously, I won’t be watching this show again. In fact, if there is any justice in the universe, this show will tank and Fallon will end up getting replaced with someone who can actually do the job (it’s not too late to get Timberlake). Unfortunately, Fallon’s debut gave Late Night its highest overnight Monday ratings in three years (and Jay Leno has been getting killer ratings for years hosting a late night show featuring bland, predictable comedy), so Fallon may be here to stay. Still, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that once the high profile guests and the mystique of the new show fade away that ratings begin to plummet.

But, if not, it’s not too late for one of you fine readers to strap a bomb to your chest and stop this show yourself. Just make sure that before the bomb goes off, you tell Fallon to lick it.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at

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  1. Milhouse44( I'm Back) March 6, 2009
  2. Sasparilla Gretsch March 9, 2009
  3. Joel March 9, 2009

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