The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

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The Tonight Show Starring
Jimmy Fallon
Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Intertitle.png
Also known as The Tonight Show (franchise brand)
Created by Sylvester L. Weaver
Developed by
Written by A. D. Miles (head writer)
Presented by Jimmy Fallon
Starring The Roots (house band)
Narrated by Steve Higgins
Opening theme "Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey"
Composer(s) The Roots
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 254 (as of May 1, 2015) (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Lorne Michaels
  • Josh Lieb
  • Gavin Purcell
Location(s) NBC Studios
New York, New York
Running time

62 minutes (2014)

63 minutes (2014–present)
Production company(s)
Original channel NBC
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Original run February 17, 2014 (2014-02-17) – present (present)
Preceded by The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Related shows Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
External links

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon on NBC. The show premiered on February 17, 2014 and is produced by Broadway Video and Universal Television. It is the seventh incarnation of NBC's long-running Tonight Show franchise, with Fallon serving as the sixth host. The show also stars sidekick and announcer Steve Higgins and house band The Roots. The Tonight Show is produced by former Daily Show executive producer Josh Lieb and executively produced by Lorne Michaels. The show records from Studio 6B in Rockefeller Center, New York City.

The program airs weeknights at 11:34 p.m. ET/PT. The show opens with Fallon's topical monologue, then transitions into comedic sketches/games, concluding with a guest interview and musical performance. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon has attracted high ratings since its 2014 premiere, consistently beating competition. In addition, many moments from the series have originated viral videos. The show has been nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards, winning a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Interactive Program for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Digital Experience.



The Tonight Show premiered on NBC in 1954 as Tonight, hosted by Steve Allen. Jack Paar hosted the show from 1957 to 1962, but the show's longest-running and most famous host was Johnny Carson, who hosted the show for three decades. Following Carson's 1992 retirement, "vast quantities of brainpower, money, and column inches were devoted to the issue of who was truly best suited to carry the franchise forward."[1] NBC chose interim guest host Jay Leno, who took over the show that year. A pair of conflicts ensued over Leno's 22-year tenure, both revolving around hosts of Late Night, a program directly following Tonight since its premiere in 1982. David Letterman was considered Carson's top choice and left the network acrimoniously in 1993, and NBC attempted to transition second Late Night host Conan O'Brien to succeed Leno in 2009, but the plan failed when a nightly prime-time show starring Leno posted less than stellar ratings, leading to a domino effect on the late local news. O'Brien's Tonight also suffered falling ratings. O'Brien too left the network the following year, and Leno was reinstated as host.

Jimmy Fallon, a former cast member on Saturday Night Live, was appointed the third host of Late Night by executive producer Lorne Michaels in 2009. Fallon incorporated the Internet much more than other talk shows.[2] Between Fallon's own musical sensibilities and the recruitment of his house band, hip-hop collective The Roots, his incarnation of Late Night "evolved into the most deeply musical of TV’s musical-comedy variety programs", with sketches in which he parodies Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen going viral online.[1] Coincidentally, it was during the Tonight Show debacle that Fallon's show found its footing.[1] The show, according to Fallon's former SNL castmate Tina Fey, established itself as "an uncommonly warm, welcoming show."[1] In 2010, New York complimented Fallon's "good humor" and noted his improvement: "In the relative safety of his 12:35 a.m. time slot, Fallon has been cultivating a distinct, and refreshing, strain of humor: the comedy of unabashed celebration."[3] "In our heads, we've been doing The Tonight Show [...] We're just on at a later hour," Fallon said.[4]


Fallon grew up with no designs on the Tonight job (unlike O'Brien or Leno) and was just 17 years old when Carson retired.[1] Discussions for Fallon to take over The Tonight Show began in early 2013, with the transition intended to happen by late 2014 at the latest.[5] Many industry observers noted that the change appeared to come as a result of another late-night competitor, Jimmy Kimmel (24 years old at the time of Carson's retirement) of Jimmy Kimmel Live! on ABC, who moved to the 11:35 slot months prior; NBC feared that by waiting too long to promote Fallon, Kimmel could create a stranglehold on young demographics, which is key to the financial success of the franchise.[5] Fallon had reportedly impressed top executives at Comcast (which had recently completed a full takeover of NBCUniversal), and his succession was widely expected throughout the company.[5] The transition reportedly lacked the tension of previous Tonight transitions, and the program's relocation east "signals NBC’s strong commitment to not messing with the program any further."[1]

On April 3, 2013, NBC announced that Leno would retire in 2014, with Fallon taking over The Tonight Show beginning on February 24, 2014. At Leno's suggestion, the date was moved forward from the end of his contract in September 2014, to February so as to use NBC's coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics as a springboard for Fallon's tenure.[6] The date was later moved up a week to February 17, midway through the Olympics.[7]

As Leno's contract ran until September 2014, much of his staff were paid until that month.[8]


The show originates from the GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon originates from NBC Studio 6-B in the GE Building at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City, the original home of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where it is taped every weekday at 5pm.[9] The studio housed both Carson and his predecessor, Jack Paar, before the franchise's move to Burbank in 1972. "It is where The Tonight Show started -- actually in the studio where we are going to be, that's where Johnny Carson was, there's Broadway, there's Times Square, there's something glamorous about it. That is The Tonight Show," Fallon remarked.[10] NBC spent approximately $5 million renovating Studio 6-B, where Fallon had been taping Late Night, for The Tonight Show‍‍ '​‍s return to New York City.[11] The upgraded 6-B contains improved acoustics and a seating capacity of around 240, up from 189,[1][11] but smaller than the seating capacity of The Late Late Show.[12] The investment also included a new control room and a new lobby to welcome guests.[9]

The move back to New York created jobs in related tourism businesses. “Bringing the 'Tonight' show back to our city means we’re bringing more than a hundred jobs to hard-working New Yorkers — and giving travelers another great reason to visit," said mayor Bill de Blasio.[9] The larger audience also meant NBC could take advantage of a newly enacted New York state tax credit for talk shows that are "filmed before a studio audience of at least 200, as long as they carry a production budget of at least $30 million and have been shot outside New York for at least five seasons."[13] Initial plans, which would have cost $25 million, intended to annex the floor above the studio, knocking through the ceiling, and installing balcony seating, but Fallon and Michaels nixed the idea.[1] The renovation would have created a "megastudio" for Fallon, as well as a "showy theater" for NBCUniversal to screen films.[14] The studio was part of a general reconstruction of the building being undertaken by Comcast.[5] Fallon's Late Night successor, Seth Meyers, is housed directly above his studio in Studio 8-G; the combination created logistical challenges for executives, who were concerned about "sound bleed" (as the GE Building was built with steel girders, sound is too easily conducted floor to floor). As a result, The Tonight Show tapes at 5:00pm,[15] and Meyers' show tapes later in the evening, at 6:30pm.[9]

The show's set was designed by theatrical set designer Eugene Lee, known for his credits on Saturday Night Live, whom Fallon thanked on-air on his first episode.[16] The set "emphasizes stained wood and a mid-century modern style,"[17] including "a slate blue couch, a handsome honey-colored wood desk and matching walls."[18] Behind the desk near the city backdrop is a wood-carved miniature replica of New York City skyscrapers.[18][19] "I think it's Eugene Lee's masterpiece," said producer Michaels.[9] Fallon's monologue spot is noted by a painted four-leaf clover on the floor.[18] "Fallon’s new set is purposefully old-fashioned compared to the college-cafe-in-the-meatpacking-district where he lived on Late Night," said Entertainment Weekly.[19] USA Today called the set more "intimate and theatrical" than the set employed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,[20] and The New York Times called it more elegant, "but also quite formal and a little impersonal."[18] The show's logo, its title set against a full moon, is a callback to The Honeymooners,[1] while the title is a throwback to Carson's tenure: Leno and O'Brien both favored a "with," rather than "starring," in their respective titles.[21]


The show's opening sequence, directed by filmmaker Spike Lee,[9][22] features Fallon visiting various New York City landmarks, including Grand Central Terminal and Katz's Delicatessen.[16] Steve Higgins introduces the show with "From Studio 6B in Rockefeller Center, in the heart of New York City, it's The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon!" and announces that night's guests and "the legendary Roots crew". The show's theme song is "energetic with jazzy overtones" with "Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey", designed to match the shots of the city.[23] Just before Higgins introduces Fallon, the camera cuts to a shot of The Roots, and Questlove shouts the numbers symbolizing the episode number of The Tonight Show. As the camera pans over to the main stage, some members of the Roots perform actions to get the camera's attention (F. Knuckles salutes, and Damon Bryson smiles while flashing a peace sign). Higgins then introduces Fallon with a drawn-out "And now, here's your host/here he is, Jimmy Fallon!", and Fallon begins his brief monologue. Fallon often gives the cue cards for a joke to audience members if the joke falls particularly flat.

The show has carried over some of Late Night‍ '​s best-known bits, such as "Egg Russian Roulette", a game in which Fallon challenges guests to pick random eggs and then smash them against their forehead to see whether the eggs are raw or hard-boiled.[4] Each week, Fallon has carried over a popular sketch from his Late Night days: the absurdist "Thank You Notes" segment, in which "he dutifully composes notes of gratitude to abstract concepts and inanimate objects."[1] Fallon has another segment which is particularly popular in the sports world. The segment is called Tonight Show Superlatives. He chooses a league such as the NFL or NHL and give out yearbook style Superlatives based on player names and pictures. There have been several hundred of these and there has been an entire website dedicated to his NHL Superlatives.

The show is essentially an extension of Fallon's tenure at Late Night, with Fallon explaining that he considers it a "best of" his time period there.[1] Prior to composing an entirely new theme song, bandleader Questlove noted to Vanity Fair that they were considering a variation on Late Night‍‍ '​‍s theme, which itself is a sped-up adaptation of The Roots' 2006 song "Here I Come".[1] For their transition to The Tonight Show, The Roots added two horn players from Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings ("You can't be The Tonight Show without a horn section," said Questlove).[23] As he did on Late Night, Jonathan Cohen supervises the show's musical guest bookings.

Remote broadcasts[edit]

While the vast majority of episodes are produced at the show's New York home base, Fallon's Tonight Show has gone on the road to produce episodes remotely in its first year, spending four nights at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida in June 2014 to promote new attractions at NBCUniversal's theme parks there.[24] Four nights of shows from Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles aired beginning February 2, 2015, in the days immediately following a special Sunday night show from Phoenix, Arizona airing after NBC's coverage of Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, using the Stage One facility previously utilized during Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show run, and later E!'s Chelsea Lately until its August 2014 end.[25] The L.A. shows bring Tonight back to the locale where it had been based since Johnny Carson relocated the programme from New York in 1972 until the start of Fallon's tenure, and echoes Carson himself hosting special broadcasts from the L.A. region prior to the relocation.


Notable episodes[edit]

Fallon at his desk on the show's premiere episode.

In the show's debut episode, Fallon introduced his supporting stars and gave a brief history of his life and career, thanking his parents (who were in the audience) and explaining how his nightly monologue would work.[26] Following this, he once again took his place behind the curtain, restarting the show with more topical jokes on the Olympics and his first bit, Tonight Show Superlatives (an extension of a similarly titled bit from his Late Night tenure).[16][27] Following the first commercial break, guest Will Smith and Fallon launched into a pre-taped sketch titled "The Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing," rotating through various synchronized moves such as the Robot, the Humpty Dance, the Dougie and more; when Fallon begins to twerk, Smith walks offstage in disgust.[16] The next segment took place at the Top of the Rock, the roof of the 30 Rockefeller Plaza, with U2 performing "Invisible" to the Manhattan skyline as the sun set.[27] On February 4, 2015, Fallon reunited most of the cast of Saved by the Bell with Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Elizabeth Berkley, Dennis Haskins, Tiffani Thiessen and Mario Lopez appearing in a Saved by the Bell sketch with Fallon.[28][29][30]


Critical reviews[edit]

The debut episode received mixed but generally positive reviews.[31] The New York Times‍‍ '​‍s Alessandra Stanley referred to the show's premiere as "more sweet than sassy," calling Fallon "the grateful heir, the eager freshman, the class clown with top grades and a good heart, someone older viewers can embrace without fear of being mocked or overlooked."[18] Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter was positive in his assessment of the evening, but noted the older fanbase used to Leno may not latch on as quickly.[32] "Indeed, Fallon comes across as eager to please almost to a fault, and he treated his Tonight Show launch very much like a guy auditioning to be accepted into homes," said Brian Lowry of Variety, who considered the premiere episode a demonstration in Fallon's strengths and weaknesses.[33]

Entertainment Weekly summarized the show's inaugural year: "In his first year as host of The Tonight Show, [Fallon] turned the revered late-night franchise into the hottest party in town, a celebrity playpen full of games, music, surprise guests, and good vibes all around."[34]


The debut episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon averaged a 3.8 rating in adults 18–49 and 11.31 million viewers overall in Nielsen's fast-national estimates.[35] This made it the second-largest audience for The Tonight Show since May 2009, behind Leno's final farewell two weeks earlier and the transition to Conan O'Brien nearly five years prior. The program's first full week averaged 8.490 million viewers, making it the franchise’s most-watched week in 20 years.[36] Following its premiere, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon has consistently won its timeslot in ratings, routinely beating Late Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[37] Despite this, the ratings for competitors never significantly fell, with Fallon winning due to a surge in younger viewers.[38] In his first year as host, Fallon's Tonight Show improved on ratings delivered by his predecessor Jay Leno.[34]

The series' post-Super Bowl episode in 2015 averaged 9.8 million viewers despite its late 12:13 a.m. start time. The following week's shows from Los Angeles maintained its highest ratings since its premiere.[37]


In August 2014, at the 2014 Emmy Awards, the show was nominated for Outstanding Variety Series, Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series, Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series and Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series,[39] and won the 2014 Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Interactive Program for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Digital Experience.[40]


In Australia, the series premiered on The Comedy Channel on February 18, 2014 - airing the same day as its U.S. broadcast.[41] The Tonight Show also airs on free-to-air network ABC2 (as opposed to The Comedy Channel which is a subscription television network) on a 2-day delay, premiering on March 24, 2014.[42] On September 21, 2014 The Comedy Channel dropped The Tonight Show, making ABC2 the exclusive broadcaster of the series in Australia at the time.[43] Beginning March 2, 2015 the series returned to STV, this time, however, airing on E! - airing within hours of the American broadcast, and ahead of ABC2's one-day delayed broadcast.[44]

In Canada, The Tonight Show airs on CTV Two, broadcasting simultaneously with NBC.[45]

In United Kingdom, The Tonight Show airs on CNBC Europe at 11pm GMT, airing on a 1-show delay from NBC. A selection of the best episodes are shown on Saturdays and Sundays from 9pm CET.[46]

In New Zealand, The Tonight Show airs on Prime.[47]

In Norway, The Tonight Show airs on TV2 Humor. Where

In India and Sri Lanka The Tonight Show airs on Comedy Central India at 11pm IST/SLST - within 24 hours of the U.S Broadcast.

Also, in Sri Lanka CNBC Asia (CNBCLife) airs back-to-back editions of The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon on weekends.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kamp, David (February 2014). "Heeeeere's Jimmy!". Vanity Fair. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ Pang, Kevin (March 2, 2009). "Jimmy Fallon: Host for a Twittering society". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  3. ^ Adam Sternbergh (November 7, 2010). "Mr. Sunshine". New York. Retrieved June 16, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Collins, Scott (January 9, 2014). "Jimmy Fallon: Johnny Carson would 'be proud' of my Tonight plans". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d Bill Carter (March 20, 2013). "Tonight, With New Host, Set to Reclaim Its New York Roots". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  6. ^ Carter, Bill (April 3, 2013). "Leno Blesses 'Tonight Show' Succession Plan". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  7. ^ "UPDATE: NBC "Taking Every Precaution" In Wake of Russian Violence Walking Up To Sochi Olympics". 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  8. ^ De Moraes, Lisa (August 9, 2013). "Leno's Last 'Tonight Show' To Air Feb. 6; Staff Paid Until September". Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Carter, Bill (February 16, 2014). "Tonight Show Returns to New York After Nearly 42 Years". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  10. ^ Debbie Emery (February 17, 2014). "Jimmy Fallon Reveals the 'New Era' of The Tonight Show to Brian Williams (Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Bond, Paul (May 7, 2013). "NBC Dumps $25 Million Jimmy Fallon NYC 'Tonight Show' Studio". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 15, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Craig’s New Stage". April 5, 2012. Retrieved February 22, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Tonight Shows' NYC Move To Save NBC $20 Million in Tax Credits". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  14. ^ Paul Bond (May 7, 2013). "NBC Dumps $25 Million Jimmy Fallon NYC Tonight Show Studio". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Tickets and NBC Studio Tour". Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c d Gary Trust (February 18, 2014). "U2, Will Smith Rock Jimmy Fallon's First Tonight Show: Minute-By-Minute Live Taping Review". Billboard. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  17. ^ Steve Johnson (February 18, 2014). "Review: Jimmy Fallon takes over Tonight Show". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  18. ^ a b c d e Alessandra Stanley (February 18, 2014). "Jimmy Fallon Debuts New Tonight Show in New York". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b Darren Franich (February 18, 2014). "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon premiere review: No one is more excited than Jimmy". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  20. ^ Robert Bianco (February 18, 2014). "Review: Fallon is easy to like in Tonight Show debut". USA Today. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  21. ^ Patrick Kevin Day (June 11, 2013). "With Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show gets back to 'Starring'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  22. ^ David Bianculli (February 18, 2014). "With Humor And A Nod To History, Fallon Takes Over The Tonight Show". NPR. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  23. ^ a b Hiltbrand, David (February 17, 2014). "New Tonight Show bandleader has show-biz roots". Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved February 19, 2014. 
  24. ^ Dennis, Andrea (June 16, 2014). "Jimmy Fallon brings 'Tonight Show' to Orlando this week". Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  25. ^ "‘Tonight Show’ Heading To Phoenix For Post-Super Bowl Broadcast". September 30, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  26. ^ James Poniewozik (February 18, 2014). "The Smartest Thing Jimmy Fallon Did on His First Tonight Show". Time. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  27. ^ a b Gary Levin (February 18, 2014). "It's Jimmy Fallon's day on Tonight Show". USA Today. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Watch a Glorious Saved by the Bell Reunion Courtesy of Jimmy Fallon". Time (magazine). Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  29. ^ "Jimmy Fallon assembled the cast of 'Saved by The Bell' for an epic reunion". Business Insider. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  30. ^ "Jimmy Fallon reunites most of the 'Saved by the Bell' cast". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 
  31. ^ Debbie Emery (February 18, 2014). "Jimmy Fallon on Tonight Show: What the Critics Are Saying". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 18, 2014. The initial reaction to the latest head of NBC's late night post was positive... 
  32. ^ Tim Goodman (February 17, 2014). "Jimmy Fallon: A Strong First Tonight Show Belies the Long Wait Ahead For Late Night Dominance". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  33. ^ Brian Lowry (February 18, 2014). "TV Review: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon". Variety. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  34. ^ a b "This Week's Cover: EW's Best and Worst of 2014, starring Entertainer of the Year Jimmy Fallon". Entertainment Weekly. December 3, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  35. ^ Rick Kissell (February 18, 2014). "Jimmy Fallon’s Debut as Tonight Show Host Draws 11.3 Million Viewers". Variety. Retrieved February 18, 2014. 
  36. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 22, 2014). "Jimmy Fallon’s Debut Delivers ‘Tonight Show’s Most Watched Week In 20 Years". Retrieved February 22, 2014. 
  37. ^ a b Rick Kissell (February 5, 2015). "Late Night Ratings: NBC’s ‘Tonight’ Surges in L.A. Return". Variety. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  38. ^ Michael O'Connell (June 5, 2014). "Four Months Into Jimmy Fallon's 'Tonight,' Late Night Flourishes". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 5, 2015. 
  39. ^ Jacobs, Matthew (July 10, 2014). "Emmy Nominations 2014: 'Breaking Bad,' 'Orange Is The New Black' Among Top Nominees". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  40. ^ "Outstanding Interactive Program – 2014". Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved August 26, 2014. 
  41. ^ Knox, David (January 30, 2014). "Aidate: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon". TV Tonight. Retrieved January 30, 2014. 
  42. ^ Knox, David (March 18, 2014). "ABC2 To screen The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon". TV Tonight. Retrieved May 18, 2014. 
  43. ^ Knox, David (September 22, 2014). "Comedy Channel drops Jimmy Fallon". TV Tonight. Retrieved September 23, 2014. 
  44. ^ Knox, David (February 24, 2015). "E! to fast-track Jimmy Fallon". TV Tonight. Retrieved February 27, 2015. 
  45. ^ "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on CTV 2". Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  46. ^ "CNBC TV Pan European Schedule". Retrieved February 22, 2014. 
  47. ^ "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon". Prime. Retrieved January 1, 2015. 

External links[edit]