Where is the UK's Jimmy Fallon?

We need more of the old-style entertainer

One stars burns out in America and another is on the rise.

As Piers Morgan’s Live show is axed from CNN, Jimmy Fallon takes over as the new host of The Tonight Show on NBC. Fallon made his debut in the prestigious 11.35pm slot last Monday. His first show featured Will Smith dancing his way through a history of hip-hop, U2 playing on the top of the Rockefeller Centre and cameos from Robert De Niro, Tina Fey, Lindsay Lohan and Mike Tyson, to name but a few.

Subsequent programmes have featured guest appearances from Michelle Obama – goofing around in a sketch with a dragged-up Fallon and Will Ferrell - Jerry Seinfeld, Justin Timberlake rapping, Denzel Washington, Paul Rudd miming to Tina Turner, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire and Kristen Wiig impersonating Harry Styles. In its first week it averaged 8.49 million viewers, its highest audience in more than 20 years.

UK viewers meanwhile have had to content themselves with looking on enviously as these many and various high jinks are posted online from New York. Certainly, it makes the line-ups on The Jonathan Ross Show (last week McBusted and Bradley Walsh) or The Graham Norton Show (Lily Allen, Miriam Margoyles) look a bit weak. It also throws into relief, not for the first time, that UK television has no-one like Fallon, and nothing like The Tonight Show. And that is a great shame.

Fallon is an old-fashioned entertainer. Having started out on the stand-up circuit and Saturday Night Live, he can deliver an opening monologue, interview a guest, sing, dance, rap, play guitar, dress up and do impressions. He has a knack for going viral. As the host of Late Night for five years before this latest gig, his lipsynch battles and musical interludes with house band The Roots became internet favourites. Crucially, he also has a knack for persuading his guests to play along with him, in the silliest ways. In 2012 he got Barack Obama to “slow jam” the news. Last year he duetted with Bruce Springsteen, while dressed up as Bruce Springsteen, on a version of “Born to Run” with lyrics adapted to address New Jersey’s traffic problems.

America doesn’t only have Fallon, either. By night, its channels are awash with clever, sparky daily chatshows, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman and Chelsea Handler to name three of the best. Late night satire is served up sizzling by The Colbert Report and The Daily Show. Saturday Night Live continues to be a weekly riot.

All of these shows offer a sideways glance at the issues and people of the day. And because there are so many of them, the chatshow landscape is constantly shifting and improving. Morgan was a victim of that this week. Fallon took over The Tonight Show from Conan O’Brien, who himself replaced Jay Leno in 2009; he has moved the show’s base from LA to New York to shake things up. In the UK, though, the chatshow is still synonymous with Parky, Wossy, shiny staircases, big sofas and nightmarish memories of Davina McCall or Charlotte Church. It must be time for a change.

Read more: Michelle Obama interviewed by Will Ferrell and Jimmy Fallon in drag during very weird sketch
Jay Leno steps down from The Tonight Show as Kim Kardashian serenades him

Alice Jones can be found tweeting @alicevjones

 

Cumberbatch effect brings rock ’n’ roll to Radio 4

Radio 4 is not traditionally the most rock ‘n’ roll home for comedy but it felt like it at Rada Studios on Sunday night as fans and autograph hunters queued for hours to get into a recording of Cabin Pressure. A record-breaking 22,854 people applied for tickets to sit in on the last episode of the sitcom which is set in a tiny, one-plane budget airline. Why so many? Well, probably because it stars Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Captain Martin Crieff. But it also features the excellent Roger Allam and Stephanie Cole and some very fine writing from John Finnemore. The new series will not be broadcast until Autumn but in the meantime the third series is being repeated on Radio 4 Extra and is well worth a listen.

 

What I Watched

Daniel Kitson

At the National Theatre, London. Kitson doesn’t say a word in Analog.Ue, it’s all pre-recorded on tape, but he still spins a unique, tragicomic tale. Runs to 20 March.

Trying Again

Chris Addison and Jo Joyner star as a couple trying to get over an affair in this new sitcom, due on Sky Living in April. Written by Simon Blackwell (Veep, The Thick of It), it’s a rom-com with edge.

Tony Law’s Surreal Guide to Surreal Comedy

On Radio 4 Extra. A three-hour mind-altering romp from the Canadian absurdist with help from Mary Beard, Will Self and others. The highlight was a rare re-run of Chris Morris’ and Peter Cook's bracing spoof interview series "Why Bother?"

Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

music
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

film
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

film
Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

film
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat