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?"

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried