Late Night Boy Sh*t

Sarah Posted by Sarah at March 8, 2017 16:58:03 March 8, 2017 16:58:03

As we are so fond of saying around here, boy sh*t is the best sh*t and today we’ve been given a helping of late night talk show host boy sh*t. If you haven’t heard, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has been steadily gaining ground in the late night ratings thanks to Colbert’s political comedy and consistent satirizing of Donald Trump. Colbert has been winning overall ratings for the last month, and though Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show retain the coveted 18-49 demographic, that gap has also been narrowing, with Colbert gaining ground. This, according to Page Six has led to Fallon being “forced” to change up The Tonight Show to better compete with Colbert.

This is an unfair fight, and I almost feel bad for Fallon, who is not built for decisive political comedy, except I still haven’t forgiven Fallon for petting Trump’s hair last year. (David Letterman may cherry-pick when he is accountable for his behavior as a powerful boss, but he is not wrong about the way a late night host should handle Trump.) Page Six quotes sources that say Fallon is “feeling the pressure” to compete with Colbert by adding in more political humor like the new “This Week In Words” segment. A source also is quoted as saying that Fallon “could be vicious on the ‘Weekend Update’ desk”.

Could he, though? Has anyone EVER described Fallon’s humor as “vicious”? No. He’s a goofball, the class clown who laughs at his own jokes and more often than not Fallon breaking character IS the joke. Tina Fey could go in on “Weekend Update”, and I honestly wonder if that source has just confused Tina’s fangs with Jimmy’s presence at the desk beside her. It’s been a while, maybe it’s all just run together in their head. Because Jimmy Fallon is not a “vicious” comedian, and even when he has the chance to go hard on a guest—like, say, interviewing a controversial and polarizing presidential candidate—he chooses the path of the toothless and accommodating.

Which is why Fallon needs to apologize. One night, instead of a monologue, he needs to look straight into camera and say, “I f*cked up.” Before he can toughen up on Trump or whatever the hell they think they’re doing at The Tonight Show—it certainly isn’t tough or scathing or even mildly stinging—he needs to come clean about that interview last year. Not to apologize for having Trump on, which is his right, but for underestimating the moment. I’m not asking for an explanation of beliefs or to judge his politics, but before he can attempt any sort of stronger comedy criticism of 45, he needs to acknowledge that he dropped the ball. He didn’t take that moment or his position in it seriously enough, he chose harmless when Harmful was sitting across from him. He must acknowledge that, and then he can try “vicious” political comedy.

The Tonight Show brand is strong enough that I think it will weather this storm, and while Colbert is doing GREAT work and will probably continue holding a better ratings position, there’s always going to be a tussle for the 18-49 demo. (And none of this is addressing Seth Meyers quietly mastering the viral game.) But Jimmy Fallon is in for a rough ride because this is REALLY not his forte and unfortunately for him, this is not a time for sitting on the sidelines or having no opinion. Sorry, Rory McIlroy, but EVERYTHING is political right now, and NO ONE has the luxury of excluding themselves from this narrative.

Christopher Polk/ NBC/ Getty Images

Previous Article Next Article