Why Jimmy Fallon inheriting 'The Tonight Show' could threaten East Coast comedy sensibility

Yahoo Contributor Network

Other than usual holiday traditions, the world of late-night TV was fairly quiet in December other than one little-reported story. That particular story regarded rumors about Jimmy Fallon quietly being considered to take over "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" by 2014. While this may trigger thoughts of what happened when Conan O'Brien temporarily pushed Jay Leno from his hosting perch five years ago, the outcome would presumably be a permanent one should it happen again.

But as with O'Brien's move to temporarily host the "The Tonight Show," Jimmy Fallon would presumably move from New York City to Los Angeles for the rest of his career. And while some Conan fans may disagree that he made recent changes to his comedic style, it was evident that he shifted to a West Coast comedic sensibility during his short "Tonight Show" stint. The earlier time slot also precipitated a slight watering down of his recurring 1990's comedic bits we all remember from "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

Details be damned, something simply seemed different that didn't make O'Brien's comedy style hold muster in Los Angeles. Comedians who've lived on the East Coast may tell you there's a definite stylistic difference between comedians working in the East compared to those on the West Coast. Then again, they can't necessarily say it worked the same way when Johnny Carson moved "The Tonight Show" from New York City to Los Angeles more than 40 years ago.

Whatever the magic ingredient is in New York City, comedy there still has a spark that seems to work differently since the days Carson moved West. It could be the studio audience reactions, or just the more frenetic energy New York City provides writers compared to nonchalant L.A. Most nights, it all gels perfectly in episodes of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," and it's something NBC should contemplate once deciding on Fallon as the new "Tonight Show" successor.

Even if the thought persists that staying in Los Angeles is necessary to obtain more A-list guests, would it really hurt "The Tonight Show" to re-base in New York City? "Late Show with David Letterman" still manages A-list guests on a regular basis while long residing in the city that never sleeps. When a host becomes as popular as Jimmy Fallon is becoming, you can expect more A-list guests to make special treks to the Big Apple just to be seen on a particular show.

Ultimately, Fallon needs to retain the energy of New York City more than O'Brien needed it back. As well, Studio 6B in 30 Rock should be re-christened the new home of "The Tonight Show" where it all started in the 1950s. Said consolidation creates its own energy that could finally bring the late-night institution a host we see for three decades without a divided audience.

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