Skip to main content

See also:

Here's Jimmy Fallon: Tonight Show will introduce only its sixth host in 60 years

The Tonight Show is the longest currently running, regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States and the third-longest-running show on NBC after "Meet the Press" and "Today."

Jimmy Fallon play a Bruce Springsteen song, "Born to Run."The song made the news as it was a takeoff on Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and "bridgegate."
Jimmy Fallon play a Bruce Springsteen song, "Born to Run."The song made the news as it was a takeoff on Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and "bridgegate."BY LLOYD BISHOP/NBC/GETTY IMAGES
On Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, Jimmy Fallon will become only the sixth host of the Tonight Show which began in 1954 with Steve Allen as its host.
On Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, Jimmy Fallon will become only the sixth host of the Tonight Show which began in 1954 with Steve Allen as its host.Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

On Sept. 27, 1954, Steve Allen hosted the very first "Tonight Show" from New York City's Hudson Theater, with an opening monologue, celebrity interviews, audience participation, and comedy bits in which cameras were taken outside the studio, as well as music including guest performers and a house band.

Those elements remain today and have been enhanced by improving technology.

Tonight, Feb. 17, 2014, Jimmy Fallon will take over the duties of the "Tonight Show" host and he is expected to become a big success. The show is returning to its roots of New York City. Already, the return of "The Tonight Show" to New York City, after 42 years in Los Angeles, is expected to restore the most important brand name in American comedy to the biggest stage in the world.

Comedy club owners are already seeing it, comedians clamoring for stage time in hopes of landing for a spot on Jimmy Fallon’s "Tonight Show." Gotham Comedy Club owner Chris Mazzilli says, "I’ve never seen anything like it. I can’t even keep up with all the requests I’m getting."

It will also be a boost for the economy of New York City.

Jay Leno hosted the show from 1992 to 2009 and again from March 1, 2010 through February 6, 2014. And the legendary Johnny Carson 30 seasons from the fall of 1962 through the spring of 1992. Other hosts were Steve Allen (1954–57), Jack Paar (1957–62) and Conan O'Brien (2009–10).

Fallon hopes to improve on the "Tonight Show," and perhaps take it to the next level. Fallon is a remarkable musical talent who performs with many of his idols, including Bruce Springsteen. He also does an awesome Neil Young performance.

Jimmy Fallon could at least equal Leno in longevity, and could possibly surpass Carson in time as host.

One of the more popular features of Jimmy Fallon's former show, Late Night, is the thank you note. Fallon wrote this one last one in advance of taking over the "Tonight Show."

Since I’m big on thank you notes, here’s a new one:

Thank you Johnny Carson, Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno and other giants of late night television like David Letterman, Ernie Kovacs and of course Lorne Michaels. Thank you for paving the way for me to this incredible job that I still can’t quite wrap my mind around.

In my wildest dreams I never imagined that this could happen. I didn’t even know the host of “The Tonight Show” was a dream that you could have — honestly, I thought Johnny Carson came with the television set. As a kid, I think my dream job was to work at IBM, where my dad worked. I figured it had worked out pretty good for him:

We had a house and a car and everyone was happy.

It is the longest running talk show in television history, and with Fallon steering the show, that is expected to continue.

Seth Meyers will be replacing Jimmy Fallon on "Late Night," and his show will be "Late Night With Seth Meyers." As an added bonus, the return of "The Tonight Show" means that Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers and the Saturday Night Live will be in the same building.

Comedian Tom Cotter says that 30 Rock, the building these shows will originate, are "going to be ground zero for standup."

"Working at 30 Rock is like being invited to the hippest party in the world," says veteran TV writer Charlie Rubin.

***

Sources:

New York Daily News - Jimmy Fallon

Wikipedia - The Tonight Show

New York Daily News - Jimmy Fallon puts N.Y. comedy back at center stage

***

Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, johnpresta@att.net.

***

More MrGrassroots:

MrGrassroots on Facebook

MrGrassoots on Twitter

MrGrassroots on Allvoices