The Tonight Show has had a long history of being a great, if not the best, late-night TV talk show, especially under Johnny Carson. But with Jimmy Fallon at the helm over the last year, it’s become a different beast entirely. He’s revamped it for a younger audience and made it a lot more fun, with the success and format of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon clearly being a factor. As a result, he’s been popping up on social media feeds a lot lately. Here are some great moments.
12. Saved by the Bell Reunion
Possibly the weakest bit of the bunch because of the arguably forced use of classic lines (though plenty will disagree with that), this reunion was fun to watch. Or at least it was fun to watch if you’re of a certain demographic that remembers growing up with Saved by the Bell on Saturdays. (Cough.)
11. Nip Sync (with Terry Crews)
Singing a song just doesn’t feel right unless you’re flexing your pecs in unison to the beat. Wait, what? In this bit, Fallon and the multi-talented Terry Crews sing “Ebony and Ivory” and chest-dance their way through it. The only difference is, those are real muscles on Crews. It’s one of those bits that’s funny at first, kind of stops being funny, and then gets funny again because it’s just so ridiculous.
10. Helen Mirren on Helium
How do you improve on a prim and proper English accent? Soak it in helium! She sounds like a sped-up recording of Tweety Bird while improvising an Oscar acceptance speech. Here we have a legendary actress and a successful talk-show host and comedian, and they’re giggling like little kids. It’s wonderful to watch.
9. Wheel of Musical Impressions (with Christina Aguilera)
If you were paying attention to pop music in the early 2000s, then you couldn’t escape Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. Well now you can see them both in one larynx, as Aguilera performs an impression of Spears, along with impressions of Cher and Shakira. Fallon says he’s always wanted to hear Aguilera do Spears—it’s a good bet he wasn’t alone in that wish.
8. Hashtags (with Justin Timberlake)
One of several collaborations with Timberlake, this one mocks #excessivehashtaguse and shows us how #silly they’d sound in #realconversation.
7. Daniel Radcliffe Rapping “Alphabet Aerobics”
You could’ve had anyone attempting to do this song—arguably one of the hardest songs to rap, ever—but the fact that Harry Po— uh, Daniel Radcliffe was doing it made it all the more unexpected and fun. Whoever thought he had it in him? Impressive. Most impressive.
6. Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing (with Will Smith)
A dance medley between Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith in which they illustrate various hip-hop dance moves. Most are real, some are made up for comedic effect. Watching anyone do the Kid ’n’ Play is always fun. Watching Fallon twerk is perhaps not.
5. Wheel of Impressions (with Kevin Spacey)
Kevin Spacey is a great actor, but he’s also adept at doing impressions. No spoilers on who does what. When you watch this one, get ready to come out of a YouTube haze after a few hours, because you’ll be scouring the site for every other video of Kevin Spacey’s impressions. It’s worth it—he’s brilliant.
4. $100 Tonight Show Bet
This happened on Fallon’s first night as the host of The Tonight Show. He mentions that he had a friend who said he’d never get the show, and “you know who you are.” After that, we saw a celebrity parade dropping off $100 bills on Fallon’s desk. And the bit produced a great selfie on Stephen Colbert’s phone.
3. Water War (with Jake Gyllenhaal)
Take the card game War, just add water, and you’ve got Water War. The loser of each round gets soaked in some way, often creatively, by the winner, using tall cups and sometimes pitchers of water. Eventually the winner of the game gets to douse their opponent with a super-soaker. This game has been played a few times on the show, but the Jake Gyllenhaal battle takes the cake. You’ll see.
2. Lip Flip (with Ricky Gervais)
This is a bit where Fallon digitally superimposes his mouth over his guest’s, and vice-versa, and then they speak for each other, essentially interviewing themselves. Yes, it’s as silly and funny as you think it is. The best part about this is Gervais’s uncontrollable squeals of laughter. He’s really enjoying himself here. (Honourable mention goes to the Word Sneak bit, also with Gervais.)
1. Lip Sync Battles
All of them. There’s not one lip sync battle that isn’t great to watch, though some stand out more than others, such as Emma Stone, Joseph Gordon Levitt, and Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart. Whoever thought that taking the singing out of karaoke would be so much fun? Spike TV did. They picked up Fallon’s Lip Sync Battle after NBC turned it down, and now have a huge hit show on their hands.