As we mentioned last week when Jimmy Fallon implored us to forget Oreos and eat Tu-Spock cookies, we haven’t been as diligent in our LNWJF watching since the show’s new-car smell wore off. Fortunately for us, though, both Bill Carter of the New York Times and Brian Raftery of Wired have been following the show very closely, and each released a profile of the show over the long Memorial Day weekend. As you might expect, Wired focused more on Fallon’s efforts to bolster his geek cred, while the NYT sought out the show’s executive producer, Lorne Michaels, to find out whether the show’s father figure approves of its direction.
Despite the fact that Michaels himself admits he was “dreading” the show’s launch and the potential media hazards that might have come with it, the tireless 64-year-old continues to attend the taping of the show every single day. After a little over two full months of Fallon on the job, Michaels had this to say about Fallon’s performance: “When 75 percent of the audience likes the person, you’re 75 percent of the way there. He’s a good performer and impressionist. The rare thing is he’s charming.” If we were in Fallon and the show’s producers’ shoes, we’re not sure how we would interpret that initial grade of a C (if you go by the letter-grade system from high school), but we’re guessing they could go a long way toward getting closer to 100 percent if they figured out how to either (a) make the monologue work or (b) ditch the monologue entirely.
Meanwhile, Wired spent just as much time singing the praises of LNWJF supervising producer Gavin Purcell as they did exploring the show’s various successes and failures. The piece kicks off with an amusing anecdote about how Fallon tests out his monologue material each day with a group of twenty tourists found wandering around Rockefeller Center, which might go a long way toward explaining why those jokes fail more often than not. Bonus points go out to Raftery for his honesty (“Let’s just come right out and say it: Jimmy Fallon is not as funny as Conan O’Brien. In fact, there are entire episodes of Late Night in which Fallon, the manic, cowlicked goofball from Saturday Night Live, seems desperate for any chuckle he can get”) and for getting Fallon to admit the pain associated with failing at his bid to become a movie star (“Making a movie is hard. It takes a year of your life and then when it comes out, everybody says it sucks”), but our favorite part of the story involves Purcell’s efforts to keep Fallon entertained by encouraging him to use his daytime downtime to play Xbox 360. We can’t ever imagine reading a similar anecdote about either Letterman or Leno, but then again, Fallon’s ability to identify with younger audiences is exactly why he was able to land this job in the first place.