by Aubrey Petrone
As we all know, Jimmy Fallon has taken over Jay Leno's spot as the host of "The Tonight Show," which premiered Feb 17 after the Winter Olympics. Since Fallon is 25 years younger than the previous host, he has brought a new youth appeal to the show. Fallon was successful with his premiere episode, drawing 11.3 million viewers, hitting almost three times the amount of viewers on average of the previous season.
In Fallon's debut episode, he began by introducing himself and thanking the previous hosts. He then gave a brief history of his childhood, thanked his parents for all their support and introduced how the show would work. Following this, he once again hid behind the curtain and was re-introduced to present a more formal monologue, including jokes about the Olympics and "The Tonight Show" superlatives.
Fallon took his first sit behind his desk and took a moment to joke to about "one friend" who once bet him $100 that he would never host "The Tonight Show." This joke turned into a big skit when many well-known celebrities came out to give Fallon the $100 they owed him, including Robert DeNiro, Tina Fey, former Mayor of New York City Rudolph Giuliani, Mariah Carey, Joan Rivers, Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, Mike Tyson and late-night rival Stephen Colbert.
Will Smith also appeared in the first episode of the show, joining Fallon in a comical sketch titled, "The Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing." The next segment took place at the top of the Rockefeller Center where the band U2 performed their single, "Invisible." Fallon closed the show by running through the audience and high-fiving.
Fallon's first few episodes of hosting "The Tonight Show" brought in a younger audience. For example, on the second episode of the show, which aired Feb 18, Fallon drew a high rating of 3.8 among adults ages 18-49 on Tuesday's episode. This episode included comedian Jerry Seinfeld, the hilarious Kristen Wiig and pop singer Lady Gaga. Fallon also joined the ragtime gal group who sang a cover of the song "Ignition Remix" by R Kelly. Fallon channeled a "cool" factor that a younger generation enjoyed.
"I loved watching Jimmy Fallon host 'The Tonight Show' this week. I have always been a fan of him, and I believe he will continue to do well on the show. He brings a different approach than previous hosts that appeal to many different age groups and he is hilarious," says Donna Raimondi, a Niagara University student who watches the show regularly.
People continued to stay tuned to Fallon's first week hosting "The Tonight Show" on Feb 19 when the show marked the highest number of Wednesday viewers the show has had in more than 10 years. This episode included guest stars Bradley Cooper, Tim McGraw, a special guest appearance by Emma Thompson and a segment with Jonah Hill.
Fallon essentially maintained his ratings through the week and they continued to rise Thursday night, Feb 20, when Fallon brought first lady Michelle Obama on the show, as well as Will Ferrell and a performance by Arcade Fire. Thursday's episode generated the show's biggest adult 18-49 rating, a 2.6, and largest overall audience since the Feb 17 premiere.
Fallon wrapped his first week hosting "The Tonight Show" with his good friend Justin Timberlake. This was the first episode of the week that showed at the regular time slot of 11:35 p.m. Fallon and Timberlake performed a hilarious skit titled, " History of Rap Part 5," where the two rapped a list of songs from artists ranging from Salt N' Pepa to Drake.
Fallon's first week pulled a nightly average of 8.5 million viewers, making it the most watched Late Night week on NBC since "Cheers" ended in 1993. Now with the Olympics completed, Fallon must continue to draw an audience as the weeks go on.
"The Tonight Show" show airs Monday-Friday on NBC from 11:35 p.m. to 12:35 a.m.