When “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” debuted five years ago I didn’t believe it had a shot at living up to the greatness that preceded on “Late Night” in the stints hosted by Conan O’Brien and David Letterman, but now that Fallon has wrapped up his stint and prepares to debut on “The Tonight Show” in a little over a week I realize that he not only lived up to those legacies, but created one for himself.
Fallon’s five-year tenure as host of “Late Night” gave not just some of the most memorable late night television moments I’d ever seen, but some of the greatest TV moments altogether. Whether he was impersonating Neil Young with Bruce Springsteen, combining David Bowie and Tim Tebow for a genius concoction or just improvising with announcer Steve Higgins and house-band The Roots, Fallon was always entertaining and capable of putting a smile upon my face.
His farewell episode of “Late Night” on Friday, Feb. 7 was no different. One of my favorite moments was between guest Andy Samberg and the show’s final segment featuring The Muppets when Fallon, Higgins and The Roots took a few moments to share some of their very favorite memories on “Late Night” whether it was Higgins pranking Fallon during a Christmas sweaters bit, Higgins having his pants fall down to his ankles midshow or The Roots’ drummer Questlove doing an unintentional spittake after having water go down the wrong way. The best part of this bit was Fallon and Higgins sharing memories of how they met when Fallon began his tenure on “Saturday Night Live” in the late ‘90s with Higgins being a producer there (Higgins is still a producer at ‘SNL’ in addition to his work with Fallon).
The opening segment of the show was a great way to kickoff Fallon’s final episode performing the zydeco classic “On A Night Like This” with special guest Buckwheat Zydeco and The Roots. My favorite aspect of “Late Night” was Fallon’s mixture of music and comedy and it’s something that I know he’s going to carry with him to “The Tonight Show.”
It was Fallon’s final “Late Night” segment with special guests The Muppets that truly proved to be the perfect sendoff for his installment of this show and matched the essence of everything his “Late Night” truly was. Fallon and The Muppets took a queue from The Band’s last concert “The Last Waltz,” turned into a classic rock documentary by famed director Martin Scorsese and performed The Band’s classic “The Weight.” Following the performance Fallon gracefully exited his “Late Night” studio walked across the hall to his future ‘Tonight Show’ studio and literally opened a new door in his career to the cheers and adulation of his crew.