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Jimmy Fallon's The Tonight Show: At Home Edition has been a boon for his politics-averse brand

  • "While The Tonight Show has long been a place for extreme silliness, especially under Fallon’s tenure, it’s always been presented inside a framework of formality and professionalism," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "Hosts wear suits and stand in front of velvet curtains. Over many decades, each person in the role has primarily been a steward of the institution. But this shift into The Tonight Show: At Home Edition feels like something new. Fallon’s on-the-fly version has pivoted sharply to the aesthetics of quarantine, which are defined by constraints. It’s lo-res, intimate, immediate, and messy. It’s less Tonight, more At Home with Jimmy Fallon. It’s also been a boon for his brand. In the past several years, late night has become a high-profile space for political commentary, which has never been Fallon’s strong suit. As hosts like Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers rose, the headlines about Fallon wondered how NBC could possibly reverse his steady plummet in the ratings. He never quite found his footing again after ruffling Donald Trump’s hair during the 2016 campaign. But the past few weeks have suggested a sea change in what audiences want from late-night hosts, and no one else has fulfilled it more quickly or effectively than Fallon. His role as the fun-loving nice guy of late night, determined to look for good things in the world, is now a balm. For the first time in Fallon’s run, it feels like the show has a mission, guided by his palpable desire to be of service to people, which, for him, means foregrounding as many charitable organizations as he can. And, of course, continuing to make the show itself." As Fallon tells VanArendonk via Zoom: "People need some type of distraction or any sign of normalcy." Fallon has previously said he looked back at the post-9/11 SNL and David Letterman shows for guidance on how to handle his talk show amid a pandemic. “The closest feeling I’ve had to something like this was 9/11,” he says. “I was on Saturday Night Live at the time, and everyone was scared and freaking out in New York City. I didn’t know who to really turn to.” Fallon says his wife Nancy Juvonen reminded him of Letterman's quote after 9/11, “I believe, because I’ve done a little of this myself, pretending to be courageous is just as good as the real thing.” Fallon said: "I love that. And I thought, I’ve got to do something. So I got in my car and I went out to PC Richards and I bought a bunch of tripods and a printer.”


    • Jimmy Fallon talks going without makeup and putting his kids to work: "I've missed my makeup department," he tells EW. "Oh my God! I look at some of these videos and go, 'Oof! You'll get a little dose of reality there.'" As for employing daughters Franny and Winnie as his sidekicks, Fallon says: "They are over it. They have no idea. They don't even really realize that they're on a show or anything yet. I just say I'm putting this on The Tonight Show and they're like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah.' They don't really quite understand. But that's just them, the way they act normally, they're just really funny kids. So they know that that's going to get a laugh, if I say, 'Are you going to laugh at me?' and they go, 'No.' They're doing it for a laugh.  But you get to see how different they are. I've never had my kids on Instagram or any socials but, at this point, desperate times, desperate measures."
    • Sting joins Fallon and The Roots for a remix of "Don't Stand So Close to Me" using "at-home instruments"

    TOPICS: Jimmy Fallon, NBC, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Nancy Juvonen, Coronavirus, Late Night