Friday, February 28, 2014

"....Look At The Bright Side....In Thirty Years, Give Or Take, Your Grandchildren Will Think Fallon Is A Lame Old Fart...."


Hold on.

Not so fast.

Apparently, there are some people who liked The Tonight Show just the way it was.

Or was.

Or, even, was.

And they don't appreciate the way NBC has "jimmy'd" with it.

(The following piece comes from the online Philadelphia Magazine and was written by a freelancer named Tim McCloskey, the article entitled, simply, "Jimmy Fallon Isn't Funny"...)

Back in the ’90s, I lived in an apartment off Sunset Boulevard, where I had quite the assortment of neighbors, including Ellen “Grandma Walton” Corby, Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead, and a struggling actor named Oscar Nuñez. Oscar was a performer at the Groundlings sketch comedy school, and I’d go see him perform.

I remember one show in particular in which each performer got five minutes to do a character of their own creation, and after watching one excruciatingly annoying character named “The Masshole,” I wanted to walk out. But I stayed to support Oscar.

The Masshole bit was just five minutes of a guy doing a bad Boston accent. No jokes. Just an accent, like “My brudda pahked his cahr in the yahd not fahr from Havaaad Yahd. It’s a wicked Camaraaa…” I remember thinking at the end of the gig, “Don’t quit your day job, kid.”
That kid was Jimmy Fallon.

And now, many years later, the unthinkable has happened: Jimmy Fallon is everywhere. Forget his day job, the kid now has the most desirable job in comedy.

I know that the world is a cruel, unjust, chaotic place. I just don’t understand how mealy-mouthed Jimmy Fallon became host of The Tonight Show.

He’s not funny. He’s not a good actor. He’s not a good interviewer. And so far, he has yet to have an original idea.

Fallon is the kind of guy that pulls out an acoustic guitar at a party and does a Neil Young impersonation or takes someone’s sunglasses and pretends to be Stevie Wonder.

Or worse, he puts on Tom Jones and does the Carlton Dance. He’s that guy.

Fallon has so few ideas on what to ask his guests (even in the most puffy puff-piece interviews) that he resorts to playing parlor games like Beer Pong, Flip Cup and Air Hockey with them.

Watching him makes me feel like I died and went to Manayunk on a Friday night. It’s horrible.
The problem is, Fallon can’t fail. He has set the bar so low for comedy that he is guaranteed this job for life.

Impersonations are the lowest form of comedy, just below puns. And impersonations of Gilbert Gottfried, Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler are the lowest form of impersonations. Fallon does all three regularly.

He was the one guy on Saturday Night Live that could not stay in character. He would crack up laughing, flub his lines and stare directly into the camera.

These days, Fallon’s whole shtick is to take something from childhood, rope in a superstar celebrity, and beat it to death.

And let’s not even talk about his apparent obsession with Justin Timberlake, who seems to show up constantly to sing medleys of 20-year-old pop songs. ENOUGH ALREADY. I’m almost ready to tune into Arsenio. Almost.

I realize the best TV writers are now at the Daily Show, Colbert, Key & Peele, Real Time, Tosh.0, Portlandia, Always Sunny, and Parks & Recreation. But C’MON. Hire somebody.

I know not everyone falls for Fallon’s smirky, impish personality. It’s been reported that other SNL cast members weren’t keen on his antics. Tracy Morgan was bothered by the “laughing and all that dumb [bleep] he used to do — he wouldn’t mess with me because I didn’t [bleep]ing play that shit.

That’s taking all the attention off of everybody else and putting it on you, like, ‘Oh, look at me, I’m the cute one.’ I told him not to do that shit in my sketches, so he never did.”

It’s almost sacrilege, at least in Philly, to talk smack about Fallon, thanks to Questlove and the Roots. I have nothing but love and respect for them. And I realize that they have to eat. But when I hear them being described as “Jimmy Fallon’s House Band,” it’s like God is strangling a kitten. Why God, why?

The link to McCloskey's piece showed up on Facebook yesterday and, as you might imagine, sparked a pretty lively thread as to the merits, or lack, of Fallon and/or pretty much all Tonight Show hosts past.

Two FB friends, in particular, were not particularly infatuated with young Fallon.

In fact, I think it fair say that "they weren't sweeeeeet on Jimmy". (Not to confuse the issue by mixing obscure Seinfeld references into the conversation.

When I offered up my two cents, the sound of the coins clinking went a little like this:

sorry to splash you gals and guys with my Grecian formula, but here's the thing....Jay, Letterman and ,to a lesser extent Conan, Will Ferrell, et al, represent the last of the "any body in the audience from Akron?" generation of stand up comedy....the reason Jay succeeded as long as he did (and I, also, found him a second rate comedy club joke teller who got very, very lucky) was because the generation(s) that were watching grew up on that soft, vanilla, do no harm, ba dum bump kind of comedy that Jay picked up watching guys like Shecky Greene, Rowan and Martin, even, to a point, Carson comedically preaching to their choirs....the game has kids are in their late thirties and think of Leno the way I thought of Carson, okay, but no big deal, in other words, the keepers of my parents and grandparents funny flame....they think Fallon and Myers and Ferguson are funny and edgy and right on the money.....they also think Seth McFarlane is some kind of comedy Buddha....while I think he's a grown up version of that kid in my biology class who got laughs making armpit fart noises...and nothing else....because he had nothing else.....the fact that you folks don't care for Fallon simply illustrates that if you haven't been moved into another box in the list of age range choices on any given application, then you're right on the cusp....roll with it....wont be long before you'll wonder why that kid next to you at the red light is playing that Robin Thicke so f***in loud.

After reading some more back and forth, a lot of it continuing to flog the Fallon while consecrating the Carson, I added, in the spirit of a little bone throwing, a suggestion regarding some slack that might be cut...

I loved and admired Carson, too, but remember he had thirty years to get it done and wasn't exactly a phenomenon that first year...Fallon's had the show, what, a week? Give the boy some time to find his late night (like first week of a morning show) groove......

Another couple of back and forths later, I offered the court my closing argument (directed, primarily, at the particular FB friend who spends his working day as an on air radio personality)...

and, again (and finally this time around , Fallon isn't funny to us.....but, as with Leno, it doesn't matter because he only has to be funny to the people who many of your talented peers are on the beach as opposed to how many "are you f***in' kidding me, THEY'RE still on the air??"s?...funny, like talent, beauty and the virtues of Fried Coke are in the eye of the beholder....

One phrase of my own phrasing caught my own eye on re-reading and I realized that it was the heart of the matter.

"...Fallon isn't funny to us.....but, as with Leno, it doesn't matter because he only has to be funny to the people who matter..."

Which reminded me of a past experience that I believe, anecdotally and metaphorically, puts a period on the shared sentence of Jimmy judging.

Some years ago, after returning to the game of weekend golf which I had not enjoyed for a long time, I landed my Sam's Club discount purchased Titleist some five or six feet off the green, laying three on a par four (non-golfers, just indulge me the jargon and stay with me to the moral of the story).

Recognizing that a simple chip shot was required to get the ball on the green, I walked around behind the cart, glanced down for the 9 iron (at the time, I had no pitching wedge) and, eyeballing it, pulled it out of the bag and walked up to the ball to prepare my shot. (again, with the me)

After a few casual practice strokes, I took the "for real" swing, trying my best to apply all that I could possibly remember about the methodology required to make a decent chip shot and not shoot the ball up and over the green and, with a pretty nice contact on the ball, watched it fly up in a short, lazy arc, fall on the pristine surface of the green, roll nicely toward the cup....

...and fall in , dead center.

Amidst the cheers and good sportsmanship-ish clapping of the other three fourths of our foursome, I retrieved the ball from the hole and walked back towards the cart.

One fourth of our group walked up along side and, with a friendly back pat, remarked, "nice shot....well done.....what club did you use?"

Glancing down, it was then that I realized that in my earlier selection of club, I had inadvertently inverted the numbers of the available clubs in my bag and had, in fact, not pulled, and used, the 9 iron, but had, in fact, chosen, and used the 6. (thanks for patience with the lingo, we're almost home)

I replied, "oh, well, hell, look at that.....I used a 6 iron".

My companion, a fairly accomplished weekend ball striker,  took on a puzzled, while still friendly, expression and responded.

"A 6 iron? That's the wrong club for that shot."

While a reasonably decent knowledge of the game of golf and its paraphernalia had me instinctively opening my mouth to respond agreeably, logic and a clear grasp of the obvious stepped in and self edited my intended reply.

Nodding back in the direction of the green on which I had just made a very nice par, I replied, also friendly, but with a tiny, unavoidable bit of snark.....

"It went in the hole....It's the right club."

Jimmy Fallon, like Leno, Carson, Paar and Allen before him, is, inevitably, not going to be everybody's cup of tea.

Or choice for Tonight.

But he's got the gig.

And the people who matter think he's funny.


....a 6 iron.