Mark Evanier has wise things to say about Jimmy Fallon’s new 11:30 pm show on NBC.
I can’t bring myself to call it The Tonight Show, as I’ve always believed NBC should’ve retired that title like an exceptional athlete’s number when Johnny Carson retired in 1992. Jay Leno at least had some continuity to the original series. He was the official guest host for years, and like most comedians of his generation, his successful appearances on The Tonight Show launched his career.
Frankly, every talk show host on the air right now is doing their spin on David Letterman. I’ve argued that Stephen Colbert, out of his Comedy Central character, would be more in Carson’s style — an actual grown-up hosting a variety show grandparents, parents, and kids could all watch together. Leno was no Carson but he was hosting a more mainstream show. Now we have a far less diverse late night.
When I was in high school, during Carson’s last years on the air, there was The Tonight Show, Late Night with David Letterman, and The Arsenio Hall Show. All were unique and reached a distinct audience. You might see Eddie Murphy on the Carson or Letterman, as well as Arsenio, but you’d never see Richard Little or George Clinton on those programs.
I’ve no idea what Seth Meyers will do with Late Night that would distinguish it from whatever Fallon’s doing. I’m not inclined to watch and find out, so I’ll just check back in with Mark Evanier.