Jimmy Fallon: SNL's next great failure?

Late tonight (actually very early tomorrow morning), Jimmy Fallon will begin his career as a talk show host by taking over the seat formerly occupied by Conan O'Brien. While many writers are predicting the quick demise of Fallon's show, his unexplainable popularity, not to mention the impressive amount of money being poured into promoting him, should guarantee his show runs for at least a few months.

In the interests of total honesty, I should probably begin by admitting that the only times that I have ever really liked Jimmy Fallon were when he was dressed up as Barry Gibb. I was able to tolerate him in Almost Famous and Fever Pitch, when he strove for dramatic range, yet managed to achieve a stunning mediocrity. Beyond that, he generally comes off as a painfully smug frat boy, and his tendency to laugh at his own jokes makes me want to shoot someone. As Peter Griffith noted while beating an animated Fallon in an episode of The Family Guy, Carol Burnett can laugh on stage; unlike Fallon, she's earned it.

On the other hand, it's only fair to point out that Jimmy Fallon probably doesn't represent a low point for television talk shows. As The Business Insider's "Ten Worst Talk Show Bombs" demonstrates, the well of horrifyingly bad TV hosts is pretty deep. What's more, even some performers who later went on to television glory, like Jon Stewart, had tough experiences on their maiden voyages. In a battleground laden with the bodies of Craig Kilborne, Pat Sajak, and Alan Thicke, even Fallon's worst comedic stylings will probably only come off as half-heartedly awful.