By Caryn James | James on Screens April 2, 2013 at 1:59AM
Here, ironically enough, is the ultimate proof that Jimmy
Fallon should take over for Jay Leno: a congenial duet between the two men commiserating
about the media flap and speculation that Fallon will replace Leno in 2014, singing
"Tonight" from West Side Story rewritten to suit their story. It's a
bit of satiric and public relations genius, acknowledging and trying to defuse
the rumors at the same time. (UPDATE: Two days after this video appeared, NBC announced that Fallon would take over Tonight in February; everyone obviously knew this was coming and decided to spin the transition right this time.)
It's also a perfect example of the sketch humor Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has done so well: funny, sharp, yet gentle enough to burnish both men's images. And despite Leno's presence, it's fathoms away from anything you might find on his creaky Tonight show.
Leno comes across as resigned. What we can read in: his ratings are still strong, but he knows how much damage he did to his good-guy image with the whole kicking-Conan-to-the-curb fiasco. No wonder he decided to play along with this video.
Fallon acts the sad and lonely guy, wanting to be Jay's friend. The sadness is nonsensical; he's not being kicked to the curb. But that posture swerves right into his own good-guy image. If there's a flaw in Fallon's persona that might not wear so well in the long run, it's that he loves everyone and everything, enough to make Letterman's crankiness seem positively refreshing.
As they wrap up, the rewritten lyrics are:
Who cares who hosts Tonight?
People just watch online the next day!
Well, they may watch Late Night with Jimmy Fallon online, which makes this parody a little more pointed than it seems at first.