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The New Faces of Late Night and The Tonight Show

The past two months marked hellos and goodbyes for Late Night on NBC.

America said farewell to Jay Leno, a name that has been married to The Tonight Show for its past 18 years and 22 seasons. And, after five seasons as the host of Late Night, Jimmy Fallon gained the coveted spot as the new host of The Tonight Show, no doubt to become another legendary name in the long line of Tonight Show greats. March welcomed Seth Meyers, a face most familiarized as the host of the Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, as the new Late Night host, and many viewers believe only time will tell how the talk show host rookie will shape Late Night into his very own.

By Sylvia Kim

Before Jay Leno, Johnny Carson’s name trailed The Tonight Show for 30 years, and he left an everlasting footprint in the history of the Tonight Show as one of its most beloved hosts. This generation will certainly remember Jay Leno the same way the previous generation adored Johnny Carson. From 1992 to 2014, America witnessed Jay Leno as the funny man who uses light, yet memorable humor to get into the audience member’s hearts.

As for The Tonight Show’s newest host, Jimmy Fallon has enraptured audiences for the past six years with bouts of hilarity and laughter as the host of Late Night.  Fallon began his career on SNL, similar to his successor, Seth Meyers.  Fallon will take many of his skit-like antics from SNL, as well as audience-pleasers from his retired spot on Late Night, to his newly minted place on The Tonight Show.  Lip-sync battles, along with the recreation of classic songs using classroom instruments, are both sure to continue on throughout Fallon’s career as the new host of The Tonight Show.

Fallon can credit his hosting success to his ability to relate to the millennial audience. Making fun of culture trends — think #hashtag — Fallon has been able to remain relevant. His “Thank You Notes” installment has also helped to create the Fallon brand; this segment is a quirky, facetious list of thank you’s to things that are getting people’s attention, ranging from Miley Cyrus to pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks.

While Leno’s idiosyncratic ease and playful humor have left enormous shoes to fill, Fallon is sure to please audiences, while also bringing his own style of laughter and fun to The Tonight Show.  “It’s a little nerve-wracking but exciting to step into his shoes. He kept the franchise going for a long time, and I hope I make him proud,” Fallon said in an interview for Eonline.com

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Jimmy Fallon (left) and Jay Leno (right). Photo courtesy of eonline.com

With Jay Leno bidding adieu and Jimmy Fallon rising to the 11:35 p.m. spot on The Tonight Show, it is now Seth Meyers’ turn to take over Late Night and put his own personal stamp on NBC.  Hopes are high for Meyers’ success after SNL, which is not only possible, but plausible, evidentiary from many SNL alumni including Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler and Tina Fey who have gone on to star in movies and even create their own shows after their careers at Saturday Night Live. A member of the SNL cast since 2001, Meyers has started his interviewing skills early as the host for the comedy show’s Weekend Update, in which he talked to parodied celebrity guests and comical characters.

Now starting his career on Late Night, Meyers has brought along fellow SNL alumni Fred Armisen, now the creator and star of TV show Portlandia, as part of his Late Night band, along with Amy Poehler as his first-ever guest.  With a star-studded guest list, including Kanye West and Vice President Joe Biden, Meyers thrives during his interviews and in making news and current events comical and accessible for viewers.

Only time can tell if Meyers will be able to live up to Fallon’s legacy. Similiarly, the standards are high for Fallon’s takeover of The Tonight Show. Hopefully, both comedians will live up to the success of their previous careers, and Late Night and The Tonight Show will continue as late night television staples.

Seth Meyers on SNL's The Weekend Update. Photo courtesy of hollywood.com

Seth Meyers on SNL’s The Weekend Update. Photo courtesy of hollywood.com

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