“And so then 2009 rolls around, like 2008 actually, and then [Lorne] called me and said, ‘Hey remember that thing we were talking about five years ago’ … and I was like, ‘All right, I guess,” Fallon recalls.
It’s been all go ever since the official announcement of Fallon’s ascendancy was made last May. "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" aims to stand out from the crowded pack of TV talk shows by being as interactive as possible with its audience, whether it’s during the program’s actual broadcast or its Web site, www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com, which contains videos and full show episodes, as well as continuously updated posts from Fallon.
“We’re going to kind of make our show and give our fans as many ways possible, different ways to enjoy our show. And the fun thing is if it doesn’t work it’s still fun to experiment and try stuff; it’s 12:30 at night. I mean, honestly I just want to kind of keep people awake. Or at least give you one joke to go to bed with," says Fallon.
Fallon’s first week brought A-list guests like Robert De Niro, Justin Timberlake, Cameron Diaz, Tina Fey and, of course, Van Morrison. The ratings for the first broadcast on Monday, March 2 were stellar, with a 35 percent bump in viewership that wasn’t surprising considering the curiosity factor for such a hyped debut.
Critically speaking Fallon’s Late Night was both praised and skewered, also not shocking given the growing pains associated with any new broadcast. (O’Brien’s first couple of years in the chair were so rough that NBC committed to renewing his show only in multi-week timeframes.)
Now that the first week jitters are over, Fallon and his team will get down to the business of building a show that will carry on the storied "Late Night" tradition. Fallon spent several months on the road fine-tuning his stand-up skills in anticipation of his nightly monologue, and he’ll continue to schedule engagements across the country on weekends.
Fallon will undoubtedly be in his element for the St. Patrick’s Day airing of Late Night. He promises to have a “St. Paddy something” on the show, and to even travel to Ireland in the future for broadcasts. (O’Brien was also a vocal proponent of his Irish heritage, and traveled to Ireland in search of his roots for some very funny "Late Night" broadcasts.)
“I love it so much. I totally want to go there and do a show from there,” he says. “And I actually know like a lot of Microsoft is in Ireland, so maybe we could do some techy something over there as well.”
And in the unlikely event that all goes wrong at "Late Night," Fallon could undoubtedly pursue a career impersonating Van Morrison, which he did quite successfully during his time on "Saturday Night Live."
“I can almost guarantee you he has no idea who I am. I could almost guarantee that to you,” Fallon said when asked if he’s shown the impression to Morrison when the two met.
“But I respect him, I love him and I could sing any song backup if he needs me.”