Well, just got back from the taping of historic show #0004 of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
at 30 Rock in NYC and managed to get on camera twice: right as they go to the first commercial break and the camera pulls out (after the 'flashback' dude exits) and when Fallon walks through the audience as the credits roll. I'm the guy wearing the blue-and-yellow "Late Night with David Letterman" logo sweatshirt and a gray wool cap doing a two-fisted 'V' sign. It's not much but I'm pretty sure it's going to come across on high-def TV.
My opinion of the show seeing it live is exactly the same as seeing it on TV: Fallon is far from a disaster but he's clearly suffering from rookie jitters. Jimmy doesn't come out to greet the audience before the show starts taping (only the typical stand-up warm-up guys and The Roots bringing down the house). Only after the first commercial break, while he does a local promo for WNBC-TV in New York ('Hey Chuck, Sue. I'm here in your old studio...'
), does Fallon acknowledge the audience with a brief 'How are ya?'. No 'thank you for coming, please come back' from Jimmy after the show ends (he just leaves).
There was a comedy segment featuring Trump before he comes out as a guest that was weird because he was being cued to start reading the cue cards and either he didn't see the cue or couldn't read the cards (the latter is what he told Fallon afterwards happened). So he froze for 15 whole long seconds before he started doing the bit; this will probably be edited on the air into a smooth transition from Fallon. Serena Williams plays a mean game of 'Beer Pong' with Jimmy afterwards. She looks stunning, and more than a few males in the audience made obscene remarks you won't hear on the air about Serena's good looks . In-between the interviews there is a funny running gag involving an election of... nah, won't spoil the fun here. You'll have to watch the show throughout to get the full irony of "Late Night's" special take on a brand-new election of... you just watch. Plus there's a cameo by an MSNBC personality that, in its own quiet way, brought down the house!
Even though I don't like their music at all (not into hip-hop in the slightest) The Roots play a mean set of songs between segments; their performance with Ludacris at the end sounded amazing (and this coming from a hip-hop hater) even though it took ten minutes to get started because the DJ's laptop computer (red) crashed and lost the samples he had arranged. The way the right side of the stage moves so that it's at a 90 degree angle facing the cameras gives The Roots crew some photogenic powers. Studio 6B looks huge on TV but in person is one tiny place; there is no bad seat in the house, and me and my friend got close-to-center seats so we could see everything. No bleachers for us, but man those look tacky on the back of 6B!
Overall, my opinion of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" is still shaping up and I still see as many positives as negatives that need to gel together. The announcer dude and his microphone are whisked away as soon as he's done introducing the show; why not keep him there to banter with Jimmy? The Roots didn't interact with Fallon again (so no, no 'Slow Jamming the News' on Thursday's show ) so it's just nervous Jimmy out there all alone talking fast, looking nervous and occasionally delivering some pretty good jokes. Again, the "Late Night" election take that runs throughout tonight's show is the funniest thing they've done all week, but it's still weak sausage compared with everything else on late night TV. And my God, Trump's hair looks as weird in person as it does on TV.
The lighting on that camera-left side of "Late Night's" stage is slightly difused and soft though. It's not the HD cameras that are making the shots from Jimmy/guest in the studio look soft. From my vantage point in the middle of the audience they looked soft too. The HD cameras are just capturing how softly the desk and couch are being lit by the show's lighting crew.
That's it. Will probably go back to the show in a couple of months to see if the behind-the-scenes etiquette and warm-up for Fallon's show changes somewhat. Seriously Jimmy, would it kill you to come out and say 'Hi' to the audience for a minute or two before the show starts? Letterman and O'Brien did it, why can't you?