NBC’s newish host of “Late Night” is finding his comedic groove with a series of inspired sketches that exploit his underappreciated talents for mimicry: Last week, he unveiled more spoofs of “The Real Housewives” and “Twilight” vamp Robert Pattinson.
But due to circumstances beyond his control — ahem, Jay Leno! — Fallon seems an afterthought at the network, overshadowed by three hours of late-night comedy.
This month, he has been surpassed in the ratings by CBS’ Craig Ferguson, another talented late-night comic. Still! Ferguson, charming as he is, lacks the innate weirdness to produce awesome viral clips such as “Robert is Bothered,” starring Fallon as an even more awkward version of Pattinson. See the “Shark Week” edition.
Fallon also employs the best TV band ever.
Ferguson is tough competition. But one can’t help but wonder if Fallon would snag a bigger audience without the nightly presence of Leno in NBC’s comedy lineup. Same goes for Conan O’Brien, who’s been trailing CBS rival David Letterman.
Too soon to speculate? Widely panned, NBC’s disappointing Leno experiment could potentially harm O’Brien and Fallon as well as local-news affiliates.
If and when Comcast and NBC Universal join forces — with the cable provider owning a majority stake in NBCU’s content-rich assets — what would the resulting entity do with Leno?
A number of things: The company could keep producing his show at a low cost, risking diminished ad sales and the loss of quality programming for which NBC was once known; buy out Leno and let him go elsewhere; scale back his show to make room for a “Law & Order: SVU” or a “Southland”; or bring Leno back to late night, essentially giving him O’Brien’s spot.
Option No. 2?
There can be a thing as too much comedy!
Despite NBC’s heavy promotion of Fallon’s program — and the blogosphere buzz over his silly videos — it’d be a shame for the “SNL” alum to get lost among the late-night rubble.
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