Stream It Or Skip It?

Believe it or not, Jimmy Fallon started hosting The Tonight Show on February 17, 2014, over a decade ago. Three months after his actual 10th anniversary, NBC is playing a clip show from Fallon’s first decade behind the desk.

The Gist: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 10th Anniversary Special is pretty much a straightforward clip show of the fun stuff that Fallon, The Roots, announcer Steve Higgins and the show’s guests have done on the show since Fallon started hosting in February 2014.

There are a bunch of brief interstitials that Fallon and Higgins shot on set and outside of 30 Rock, along with the Tonight Show-themed ride at Universal Studios theme park. Otherwise, the two-hour special (just short of 90 minutes without commercials) is jam-packed with Fallon and company doing the myriad of games, sketches, remote pieces, and other things that has defined Fallon’s brand of late-night talk show since he took over Late Night from Conan O’Brien in 2009.

There is at least a few seconds of every classic bit you can think of; at first, he has them arranged in themes, but then it just becomes “more” of some category, like sketches, musical performances, etc. So if you don’t see your favorite sketch, or bit where Fallon, the Roots and a guest play a guest’s song on toy instruments, just wait and you’ll see it eventually.

Two interview bits get extended play: When Fallon and Bradley Cooper try to talk about The Elephant Man as the two of them wear Eagles (Cooper) and Jets (Fallon) visors with fake Guy Fieri-style hair sticking out of them, and when Fallon finds out from Nicole Kidman that he completely missed a signal when she invited herself over to his place when the two of them were still single.

Fallon also has an extended segment about when the show was produced out of his house during the pandemic, with his wife and daughters both on-camera and shooting all the video.

THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 1433 -- Pictured: Singer Addison Rae teaches host Jimmy Fallon TikTok dances on Friday, March 26, 2021 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC)
Photo: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: It’s a classic clip special, reminiscent of ones that Johnny Carson and David Letterman did on NBC back in the day.

Performance Worth Watching: Hate to be cliche, but every time Taylor Swift shows up, she’s game and hilarious, like when Fallon surprised her with a video her mother shot of her on painkillers after LASIK surgery. We also loved watching Kevin Hart screaming with his eyes closed as Fallon took him on a massive roller coaster.

Memorable Dialogue: The exchange between Fallon and Kidman about the fact that she wanted to date him and he completely missed that signal is always fun to watch, especially for how uncomfortable it is.

Sex and Skin: None; it’s a late-night network show.

Jimmy Fallon on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'
Photo: NBCUniversal

Our Take: There were two things noticeably missing from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 10th Anniversary Special: Extensive interview clips (aside from Kidman and Cooper) and monologue jokes. It’s not a surprise, given that they are two of the weakest parts of Fallon’s game. But we wish we saw more of both.

Yes, the monologue jokes are generally topical, but we were surprised not to see at least a couple of good ones filtered in with the hundreds of clips in the various montages. And it speaks to how inconsequential Fallon’s interviews are that we didn’t see more than just fleeting moments that were more performative (like anything Will Ferrell did) or were another game, just done at the desk (like the random singer/song generator).

Perhaps it was smart for Fallon’s producers to stick to his strengths: Sketches, games, lip-synching and musical performances. Whether you have fond memories of Fallon’s decade behind the Tonight Show desk or are seeing most of the clips for the first time, the clips make for a fast-moving, funny special. But it certainly indicates that the show under Fallon has always been about fun and games, and confirms why his audience is loyal but the people who don’t like him really don’t like him.

Our Call: STREAM IT. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 10th Anniversary Special is a fun look back at Fallon’s first decade as the Tonight Show host, but it certainly isn’t going to win any converts away from the other late night shows.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.

Leave a Comment