A new star shines at night

Zac Younkins

Late-night television has always been kind of a big deal. For a musician, playing a talk show is the judge of your success. For actors, it’s one of the best ways to gain popularity and promote your latest film.

For a comedian, though, it’s the ultimate goal. If you land a gig hosting a talk show, you’re essentially set for life. That being so, you also have legends like Johnny Carson to live up to — pretty colossal shoes to fill.

Jimmy Fallon has really come into his own while hosting “Late Night.” When he started on “Saturday Night Live,” he was constantly breaking character and losing his cool. Since then, Fallon has matured and made the concept of late-night television his own.

Now Fallon steps up to the big leagues by taking the reins from Jay Leno. With the new “Tonight Show,” Fallon said he doesn’t plan to change the format much, and as long as Leno doesn’t decide to come and take the show back again, we’ve got years of buzz-worthy TV to discuss around the proverbial water cooler.

His warm sendoff from “Late Night” left fans feeling sentimental. He performed The Band’s classic song “The Weight” with help from The Muppets and The Roots. (The clip is on YouTube, if you feel like having your day brightened.)

Taking over the reigns of “Late Night” will be another “SNL” alumnus, Seth Meyers. Bill Hader will reportedly join Late Night’s cast of characters. Even more exciting is the show’s band leader, SNL and “Portlandia” favorite, Fred Armisen.

Fallon’s new “Tonight Show” debuted Monday to a slew of celebrity guests including Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Mike Tyson and Joan Rivers. Will Smith even joined for a new segment of the “Evolution of Hip Hop,” this time done only through dance. (Will Smith jokingly decided to bail after the evolution led to Fallon twerking.) Fallon’s overall win though is his personality. The honest and humbleness that makes him appeal to the average American, as well as to the Hollywood community, continuously shines through — even with his illustrious new title and job.

His goofy and lightly satirical look at pop culture and modern television has given him an interesting and well-deserved place in entertainment history, and he’s only just begun!

Contact Zac Younkins at [email protected].