Network overhauls late-night comedy lineup

Story by Stephanie Kocer

On Monday night, a new era of television began for NBC. Jimmy Fallon officially brought “The Tonight Show” back to New York City.

After much drama and debate in the last few years, Jay Leno finally stepped down from his 22-year reign as host of “The Tonight Show” on Feb. 6. His final words were, “It really is time to go.”

Critics and audiences alike agreed that Leno had become boring. He lacked the ability to bring life to a show that was once the most popular program in the late night television game.

This is where Jimmy Fallon comes in. Fallon, a “Saturday Night Live” alumnus, talented comedian and all-around nice guy, has long been a popular option for Leno’s replacement.

“I think Jimmy Fallon is really funny. He’ll do a good job,” said Elizabeth Johnson, a sophomore psychology and management double major.

Johnson said she thought Fallon was the only guy for the job. She thought the reason Conan O’Brien didn’t work out the first time NBC tried to make a late night switch was because he didn’t cater to NBC’s audience.

Both Leno and NBC have repeatedly expressed that they will not be taking a step back again. In 2010, Leno moved to an earlier time slot in NBC’s nightly lineup while O’Brien took over “The Tonight Show.”

After a rough seven-month period, NBC decided to move Leno back to his original 10:30 p.m. “Tonight” time slot and got rid of O’Brien all together.

The move caused major controversy for NBC that led many to wonder whether the network would give Fallon time to adjust to his new show.

Where Leno was dull and tired of his job, though, Fallon is energetic and full of life. He’s known for his hilarious original characters as well as his spot-on celebrity impressions.

It’s no secret either that Fallon is adored by guests that flocked to “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”

Everyone from Justin Timberlake to President Barack Obama played along with Fallon on “Late Night.”

“Tonight” was the logical next step for Fallon.

He appeals to a wide range of audiences and can give a fresh look at late night talk show humor and commentary.

On his first show alone, he had appearances from Robert DeNiro, Tina Fey, Joe Namath, Rudy Guliani, Mariah Carey, Tracy Morgan, Joan Rivers, Kim Kardashian, Seth Rogen, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mike Tyson, Lady Gaga, Stephen Colbert, Will Smith and U2.

Fallon also has legendary band The Roots as his “Tonight” band.

Having the group and Iowa native Steve Higgins as the announcer for his jokes and sketches adds to the closeness and unique environment that Fallon produces.

With Fallon all set to take over “The Tonight Show,” the “Late Night” time slot was wide open.

Many famous faces have hosted the show before, including O’Brien, David Letterman and, of course, Fallon. NBC’s choice of SNL’s Seth Meyers is an interesting one.

Meyers has been charming audiences on SNL for 12 seasons with his quick wit and apologetic joke telling.

He’s the man that Lorne Michaels had handpicked since the beginning.

The real question isn’t, “Can Meyers tell a joke?” but rather, “Can he host a talk show?”

He has a solid writing staff in place and with fellow SNL cast mate and friend Fred Armisen leading his “Late Night” band, some may argue that Meyers is the perfect choice for Fallon’s replacement.

Others wonder if Meyers will be able to do well in “Late Night” because it is so different from what he has been doing for the past 12 years.

First-year actuarial science major Rachel Schaefer said she has watched Meyers on SNL and said he always seems funny and up for a challenge.

“Seth Meyers has never had his own show before, but I’m sure he’s good at improving, so that will be good,” Schaefer said.

Madison Dockter, a junior public relations and politics  double major, agreed with Schaefer.

“I’m excited he’s getting his own show,” Dockter said. “I watched SNL just for him.”

“Late Night with Seth Meyers” premieres Monday.

As Meyers’ said goodbye to “Saturday Night Live” a few weeks ago, NBC made yet another announcement of late night change-ups.

The show announced that current head writer Colin Jost would take over as SNL’s new “Weekend Update” co-anchor alongside Cecily Strong.

Jost is a Harvard University graduate who has been working at the comedy sketch show since 2005 and has been head writer since 2012.

Only time will tell if these late night comedy changes will sit well with the American public, but the future looks promising for NBC and its new hosts.

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