BY JONATHAN VALANIA Anybody else bother watching Jimmy Fallon’s debut last night? I did and I’ll never get that hour back — and it will be sorely missed when the end comes and I am raging against the dying of the light. First problem: Fallon’s ‘This is a pity date’ attitude. Obviously trying to lower the bar of expectation, Fallon did the whole show like he was walking on eggshells. Message: Don’t be too hard on me, I’m scared, it’s dark and there’s wolves after me. Opening monologue/stand-up? Laugh-free and utterly forgettable.
The second bit, Slow-Jamming The News, wherein Fallon singspeaks the news like a soul train loverman while the Roots lay it down quiet storm-style behind him. You could almost smell the aromatherapy candles and the bubblebath. This bit killed, thanks almost entirely to The Roots’ sheer musicality. The ‘Why Advertisers Love To Target Blonde Moms’ explainer was right on, too. The ‘Lick It For 10’ bit, wherein desperate-for-attention audience members lick things like a lawnmower and a fishbowl — played back in porno-riffic slow mo — for 10 bucks belongs in the Big Book Of Stupid Human Tricks I Will Never Watch Again.
Next came DeNiro and, barring a pretty funny impersonation of the man by Fallon, this was another wasted opportunity — to do what I’m not sure. Yeah, DeNiro is a legend and an icon and yada, yada, yada, but the plain fact is throat cancer patients make better conversationalists. And when it comes to comedy, he’s about as funny as chemotherapy. Thank God for Justin Timberlake (words I never thought I would have to utter, but here we are), who was by far the best thing in the entire hour: Bee Geeing with Fallon, mock-singing John Maer and Michael McDonald with uncanny fidelity. Let’s give HIM a talk show. And Van the Man? I love you man, but you have long ago outgrown, outlived or drank away your ability to tap into the mystic emotional expressionism that made Astral Weeks such a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Shoulda just done “Brown-Eyed Girl” and sent the blonde moms home happy.