Where’s the Love for Al’s Pancake World?

I’m not going to lie, when I found out Jimmy Fallon was slated to replace Conan O’Brien I was perplexed, disappointed and insulted1.

I have tentatively changed my mind2.

Jimmy Fallon is no Conan, but unlike Conan when he took over “Late Night” in 1993, Fallon actually has on camera experience3, so the bar during the first few months was set higher. If The Tonight Show era Conan invokes Carson more than Leno, then Fallon brings to mind Carson’s unsuccessful successor David Letterman. Just nowhere near as funny4.

But, to his credit, Fallon and his cohorts are very much experimenting with the form. Episodes frequently feature a segment that is nothing more than 6 minute surreal game show with audience members as contestants and cash and t-shirt prizes.

The show is at its weakest when Fallon flounders with a guest he has no rapport with. He’s not as nimble as his peers who can, to varying degrees, save even the most boring interview. But, surprisingly, despite his comedic shortcomings, the interviews highlight Fallon’s greatest strength: his likability. All that inappropriate laughing that ruined so many skits on SNL, and made a handful even better, in a more relaxed setting, is actually charming. One hopes his wit catches up to his charm and not the converse.

The show’s head writer A.D. Miles, an established and underrated comedian who you’ll recognize from virtually every The State alumnus project, Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, and most recently Role Models as just a few examples, will hopefully keep the show steered in that direction.

Proof that it’s working.

Some straight truth, to be had here.

  1. Also, horny. I’m guessing. []
  2. He just doesn’t do it for me anymore. []
  3. If you can call corpsing at pretty much everything Horatio Sans and Will Ferrell do or say experience. []
  4. Or, to be fair, cruel. []