There were plenty of critics when Jimmy Fallon took over NBC’s Late Night in 2008. I was skeptical, I’ll admit, but I’ve been won over by the past several seasons of the show. Fallon has this boyish charm that dismantles cynicism, resulting in some truly amazing interviews and highly collaborative efforts. Where Conan’s following fed off wry humor, irony, and the sometimes absurd, Fallon generates fan loyalty with something much more unexpected: Sincerity.
Jimmy Fallon is just a nice guy, and I think it comes across genuinely. It may have taken him a moment to land on his late-night feet, but Fallon’s sincerity is the momentum that makes Late Night so damned engaging. In episode #82 of the Nerdist Podcasts, Fallon explains that Late Show announcer (and full time SNL producer) Steve Higgens is there “just for the love of it, for the fun of it. I think that’s what are show is all about.”
Fallon is having fun. The best part? It sells, it’s profitable, it makes NBC money. This is exactly how business, let alone entrainment, should work. It should run on authenticity. As another piece of evidence in there never-ending court case of “Cynics V. Jimmy Fallon,” the recent Late Night rendition of “All I Want for Christmas” is as sincere as it gets.
Do you see Jimmy Fallon’s face? He is as happy as the kids he’s singing with. Fallon, with The Roots and Mariah, perfectly performs a kindergarten arrangement with absolute grace. Yes, they’re acting like children, but if there’s anytime such actions are needed, it’s Christmas.
I hope this says something about culture, and more specifically the direction in which culture is headed. We need a change. Cynicism is the worst, and while we’re fresh from a hangover of 90’s sarcasm and low-blows, it’s still a preferred mechanic. It all boils down to negativity. Fallon, on the other hand, promotes sincerity and positivity, and people love it. I think—and I hope—that means something.
As a bonus, here’s a bit from the Emmys a few years back, where Jimmy Fallon and friends performed “Born to Run.” If it doesn’t give you chills, then please stop reading my blog.