Jimmy Fallon's critics hate him for being so awkward and manic. But all indications are the Saturday Night Live veteran will embrace those qualities, crafting the geekiest Late Night yet.
Obviously, Fallon will have to rein it in. He can't be cracking up at his own jokes as he did on SNL. But maybe he can turn nerdishness in his favor.
Fallon's co-producer, G4 channel (read: nerd TV) veteran Gavin Purcell, walked Silicon Alley Insider's Nicholas Carlson through part of the strategy:
- The show will respond rapidly to internet memes, like "Kenneth" from 30 Rock appeared on a test show less than 24 hours after the "Bobby Jindal sounds like Kenneth the Page" observation spread all over the internet.
- The shoe will embrace gadgetry: A skit in a test show hinged on Skype video conferencing; Fallon's producers would also like to book nerd-friendly guests like Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Amazon's Jeff Bezos.
- The show hired a bunch of bloggers (to blog) and is on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Basically all TV shows are trying to jump on various online bandwagons these days but it sounds like Fallon is pushing further, faster.
Gillian Reagan of the Observer also noticed some of Fallon's geek moves back in January:
- Fallon promoted his show on the Diggnation podcast.
- The host created a War of Warcraft character, and videoblogged about it.
- He said during a winter press junket, "I think our show is going to bea lot more tech, gadgetry talk."
Fallon still needs traditional showbiz skills. During his most last appearance on predecessor Conan O'Brien's Late Night, his raw-nerved jumpiness was almost frightening.
But Fallon's been practicing, making a series of Webisodes, which seems to have improved his delivery over time. And as the old SNL clip below illustrates, he's worked his geeky side effectively in the service of comedy before.