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A Bill Kuchman Pop-Ed: I'm Sorry for the Mean Things I Said About Jimmy Fallon's Early 'Late Night' Days

I'm a huge fan of Jimmy Fallon. It's great that he's become a beloved late-night host, the face of NBC and the future king of The Tonight Show. For a long time, I thought that Conan O'Brien was the best late-night host around. His work during the writers' strike and then during his final week as host of The Tonight Show was absolutely brilliant. Over the past few years, though, Fallon has passed O'Brien.

Look, O'Brien's still awesome. It's just ... Fallon is better. While O'Brien's act was always from the standpoint of the late-night host being the smartest guy in the room (if you were the editor of The Harvard Lampoon, you probably are the smartest guy in the room), Fallon's thing is that he just loves what he's doing. Like, he genuinely is stoked about everything, whether it's hanging out with The Roots, writing Thank-You Notes, slow-jamming the news with Brian Williams or goofing around with Bill Cosby. If O'Brien was the guy wannabe comics aspired to be, Fallon is the guy we'd all probably be if we were in his position.

All of this said, I didn't always believe in Jimmy Fallon. In fact, I was downright dismissive of his potential as host of Late Night after his first few weeks on the job. Back in the old days of The Bill Kuchman Blog (an early predecessor of Popculturology), I posted a quick hit job against Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The article isn't on the site anymore, but I've dug up a few quotes from it.

Anyone out there watching Late Night with Jimmy Fallon ... ?

OK, so this is positive. Just getting a feel for the room, seeing who's been checking out Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Yeah ... didn't really think so.

Ouch. Looks like I kind of had my mind made up on this subject going into that question, didn't I?

I've probably seen the combination of two and a half episodes so far, and to this point, I'm underwhelmed. There's always the chance that Fallon is just laming us to sleep and then will shock us with complete awesomeness. This, of course, would make said future awesomeness seem only more awesome in comparison to the preceding lameness.

A couple things here. First, I admitted to only seeing "the combination of two and a half episodes so far." Why was that enough to render a verdict on Fallon as host of Late Night. Geez, I couldn't have given the guy at least another episode or two worth of my time?

That said, it's interesting that I suggested that maybe "Fallon is just laming us to sleep and then will shock us with complete awesomeness." In a way, isn't that exactly what happened with Fallon? He had a rough beginning as Late Night host (remember that brutal Robert De Niro interview from his first show?), but at some point something clicked and Fallon is now the best host in late-night TV. If anyone is bringing awesomeness now, it's Fallon.

Or ... the guy's just not right to host this show.

Yikes. What a jerk.

I hate to admit it, but every so often, I'm wrong on something. Just like my original stance against Twitter, I bombed when it came to judging Fallon's potential as a late-night host. In fairness, those days of Late Night were before Justin Timberlake started stopping by all the time or Fallon became everyone in show business's best friend. Back in March of 2009, Fallon was just the new kid on the late-night block, hoping everyone forgot that he ever starred with Queen Latifah in Taxi.

Well, I'll never forget Taxi, but I'm more than willing to forget the early days of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Over the past five years, Fallon has more than proven that he's the right guy for any late-night hosting job. Thankfully, he's just a few weeks away from taking over the biggest one of them all.
A Bill Kuchman Pop-Ed: I'm Sorry for the Mean Things I Said About Jimmy Fallon's Early 'Late Night' Days Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 1/30/2014 Rating: 5

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