Jimmy Fallon is one of the most popular late night talk show hosts on television today. As the host of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon since 2014, he has garnered a large fanbase with his antics, celebrity interviews, and viral segments.
However, despite his success, Fallon has also drawn criticism from some viewers who have expressed disdain or dislike for the comedian and host. Here is an in-depth look at some of the major reasons why Jimmy Fallon rubs some people the wrong way.
Fallon’s Over-the-Top Persona Turns Some People Off
One of the most common complaints about Jimmy Fallon is that his on-screen persona feels exaggerated, inauthentic, and over-the-top. Fallon has built his brand on being effusive – he laughs heartily at nearly every joke, profusely thanks each guest, and seems intoxicated with enthusiasm during every interview. For some viewers, this amounts to Fallon trying too hard to be liked and coming off as disingenuous.
Critics argue that Fallon’s persona feels like a put-on and that he is less genuine compared to other hosts like David Letterman or Conan O’Brien. His constant giggling, interjections (“That’s amazing!”) and broad smile seem aimed at getting a reaction from guests and audiences rather than having an authentic conversation.
Some see his interview style as fawning rather than engaging. In an era where audiences want authenticity from public figures, Fallon’s perceived over-eagerness could rub people the wrong way.
Fallon’s “Nice Guy” Persona Feels Calculated For Some
Related to the inauthenticity complaints is the perception among critics that Fallon’s “nice guy” persona is a calculated move to avoid controversy and appeal to the widest possible audience. Fallon largely avoids politics, rarely criticizes guests, and focuses on lighthearted games and comedy bits. While some find this approach refreshing, others see it as a way for Fallon to avoid taking any real stands or making statements that could be divisive.
In contrast to edgier hosts like John Oliver or Samantha Bee who tackle thorny issues satirically, Fallon’s deferential style feels like he is trying to be as inoffensive as possible. Rather than coming across as genuinely kind, to detractors this makes Fallon seem like a people pleaser unwilling to voice opinions. In a polarized political climate, Fallon’s apolitical stance rings false for some viewers.
He Frequently Breaks Character
One of Jimmy Fallon’s signature moves is breaking character and bursting into laughter during SNL-style sketches on his show. While fans find these uncontrolled giggle fits amusing, critics argue that they demonstrate a lack of commitment as a performer.
When Fallon cannot keep a straight face and ruins the fictional premise of a sketch by laughing, it shows he is not truly inhabiting the roles. For skeptics, this breaking of the fourth wall ruins any sense of immersion in the comedy and shows that Fallon prioritizes his own amusement over creating quality sketches. Rather than come across as infectious, his frequent inability to stay in character strikes some as unprofessional and self-indulgent.
Fallon Is Seen as a Poor Interviewer by Some Critics
Beyond complaints about his persona, one of the biggest knocks against Jimmy Fallon is that he is not particularly skilled at conducting interviews with celebrity guests. Some common critiques of his interviewing style include:
- Asking softball questions designed to make guests look good rather than engaging them in a substantive manner
- Failing to do adequate research in order to ask insightful questions
- Name-dropping and trying to ingratiate himself with famous guests
- Interrupting guests instead of letting them finish thoughts or tell stories
- Getting overly starstruck in front of big celebrities and fawning over them
Compared to adept veterans like David Letterman or Stephen Colbert, some argue that Fallon lacks gravitas and his interviews come across as shallow publicity exchanges rather than meaningful discussions. Rather than draw out guests’ personalities, he is seen as missing opportunities to have interesting conversations in favor of getting quick laughs.
Fallon Often Seems Unprepared with Poor Questions
One symptom of Fallon’s weakness as an interviewer is that he will frequently appear unprepared with poorly considered questions. Guests are sometimes left confused by the lack of research Fallon has clearly done before an interview.
Fallon’s questions are often superficial inquiries about a project the guest is promoting rather than substantive questions about their career or meaningful themes in their work. Occasionally his lack of preparation leads to awkward pauses or interventions from producers off-camera when Fallon seems unsure of what to ask next.
For viewers expecting an incisive interview, Fallon’s apparent lack of deep knowledge about the guests and their work can undermine the quality of the exchange. More preparation would help Fallon conduct interviews with greater insight and specificity.
He Focuses Too Much on Games Rather Than Content
A considerable amount of airtime on The Tonight Show is devoted to Jimmy Fallon playing various games with celebrity guests, from Pictionary to egg Russian roulette. While fans enjoy the competition and silliness, critics argue that these games distract from the interviews and function more as promotional vehicles for guests rather than opportunities for meaningful discussion.
The games allow guests to let loose and show off their playful side. However, they eat into the time allotted for questions that could reveal more about the guest’s personality, background, or work. Prioritizing games reduces interviews to superficial plugs of a star’s latest project. For skeptics, it points to Fallon’s unwillingness or inability to have substantive exchanges.
Fallon’s Recurring Segments and Games Are Seen as Juvenile by Some
In addition to critiques of Jimmy Fallon’s persona and interview skills, another prime reason audiences criticize him is the perception that many of his comedy bits and show segments come across as overly juvenile rather than sharply funny. Fallon spends significant time performing various recurring segments that some viewers argue lack sophistication and pander to the lowest common denominator.
Some examples frequently highlighted as evidence for Fallon’s lack of maturity as a host include:
- Slow Jamming the News – Fallon and celebrities slowly croon pun-filled versions of news stories over R&B music in a parody of soft rock radio shows. Critics argue it reduces serious news topics into frivolous singalongs.
- Ew! – Fallon dresses up as teenage girl Sara and spews excessive slang like “LOL!” and “Hashtag, funsies!” while squealing and gushing over male celebrities. Detractors say the overly bubbly character celebrates vapid youth culture.
- Lip Sync Battles – Guests and Fallon take turns pantomiming popular songs on stage. While fans enjoy the dramatic performances, critics see it as a silly karaoke spectacle with no substance.
- Water War – Fallon and guests shoot water guns at each other and get soaked while laughing raucously. Skeptics argue it is a pointless mess making a children’s game seem like compelling entertainment.
His Games Are Often Messy and Immature
A big part of why some viewers see Fallon’s comedy as juvenile is that many of his popular segments and games involve people getting very messy. Food fights, dumping paint over each other, and other forms of physical chaos are common occurrences on his show.
Supporters may see the messiness as fun and free-wheeling. But detractors argue grown adults rolling around in pies or Jell-O fits more with a toddler’s sense of humor than an actual talk show. The mess reinforces perceptions of Fallon as juvenile rather than elevating his comedy.
His Impressions Are More Goofy Than Spot-On
Another staple segment of The Tonight Show are Fallon’s impressions of various celebrities and public figures. While fans find them entertaining, critics argue that Fallon’s impressions tend to be exaggerated caricatures rather than truly accurate satirical send-ups.
Rather than zeroing in on precise mannerisms and vocal tics, Fallon’s impressions involve a lot of goofy wigs, glasses, and silly voices. For instance, his send-up of Donald Trump is less biting satire and more Fallon ruffling his hair and using silly voices. The shtick feels indulgent rather than truly mocking public figures with cutting wit.
He Is Too Buddy-Buddy with Controversial Figures
One of the more political criticisms leveled at Jimmy Fallon is that he has been too friendly and jovial with controversial public figures whose actions or statements seemingly should warrant harder-hitting interviews.
In the eyes of skeptics, Fallon has failed to ask tough questions and instead treated divisive figures as just another celebrity dropping by for some lighthearted games. This overly gentle, welcoming approach strikes many viewers as normalizing or implicitly endorsing problematic individuals by giving them an unchallenging platform.
Fallon’s Playful Interview with Donald Trump Ruffled Feathers
The most often cited example of Jimmy Fallon cozying up to a controversial figure is when he had then-presidential candidate Donald Trump on The Tonight Show in September 2016. In the lead up to the contentious election, Fallon was criticized for his willingness to mess up Trump’s hair and joke around rather than pressing him on any issues or statements.
The softball interview so close to the election felt, for many viewers, like Fallon was providing Trump with a platform to spout talking points and improve his image with lowbrow games rather than asking hard-hitting questions. It struck observers as a missed opportunity to hold Trump accountable.
He Gave Ted Cruz a Friendly Forum Before the 2016 Election
Similarly, Fallon hosted Republican senator Ted Cruz in the run up to the 2016 election and engaged in friendly banter rather than bringing up Cruz’s conservative stances that many viewers likely disagreed with.
Fallon’s kid-gloves style struck many as failing to use his platform responsibly. Letting divisive political figures have an easy time on his show with no challenging questions read as either cowardly or a tacit endorsement.
Table summarizing controversial figure’s appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
|During presidential campaign
|Too friendly; failed to ask tough questions
|During Republican primary
|Chummy interview normalized extreme views
|Defending Trump amid scandals
|Let Giuliani rant unchecked; no pushback
He Usurped the Tonight Show From Conan O’Brien
Jimmy Fallon’s path to taking over as host of The Tonight Show in 2014 was paved by controversial dealings at NBC that pushed out previous heir apparent Conan O’Brien. Some viewers have never forgiven Fallon for benefiting from network politics that wronged O’Brien.
Back in 2009, O’Brien took over as host of The Tonight Show, taking the baton from Jay Leno after he retired. However, when Leno’s new show struggled, NBC made plans to move the latter back to his old 11:35pm time slot and bump O’Brien’s Tonight Show to after midnight. O’Brien objected to the timeslot change and left NBC over the messy situation.
The debacle soured many viewers against Leno. When Fallon took over as Tonight Show host just a few years later in 2014, O’Brien fans saw it as Fallon opportunistically taking a job that had been snatched away from his predecessor. Even if Fallon did not actively scheme against O’Brien himself, becoming the new Tonight Show host so soon after O’Brien’s ugly ouster struck many as shameless careerism without regard for how O’Brien had been treated.
He Did Not Stand Up for Conan Publicly During the Controversy
Critics of how the Conan-Leno succession was handled also point out that Fallon did not speak out at all in support of O’Brien when the controversial timeslot change was unfolding in 2010.
As a fellow late night comedian on NBC, some felt Fallon should have voiced support for O’Brien rather than staying silent. Failing to publicly stick up for a colleague struck observers as cowardly and self-serving. Fallon’s silence fueled a perception that he was keeping quiet and waiting to claim the promotion to The Tonight Show for himself.
He Played Along with Leno’s Image Rehab on His Show
In 2010 at the height of tensions over the Tonight Show succession, Jimmy Fallon hosted Jay Leno on his late night show at the time and played along as Leno made light of the controversy. Leno’s appearance with his eventual successor struck many as an attempt to rehab his public image after pushing O’Brien out.
By participating in bits with Leno playing the good sport, Fallon helped the older host present himself positively and sidestep the ugly politics behind the Tonight Show fiasco. To critics, Fallon was complicit in papering over how his future gig was the product of raw corporate deal-making rather than a fair transition.
His Comedy Routines Are Derivative and Unoriginal
Another critique occasionally lobbed at Jimmy Fallon is that he frequently recycles comedy bits and segments that are derivative of other performers rather than crafting fresh material himself.
Some examples observers have noted of Fallon copying others’ ideas include:
- His lip sync battles closely mimicking a segment first popularized by LL Cool J on his own talk show
- His games of pictionary and egg roulette having already been staples on UK talk shows for years
- His show’s “Tonight Show Superlatives” seeming inspired by Ellen Degeneres’ Oscars “Superlatives”
- His “Tonight Show Suggestions” box copying the audience Q&A box made famous by Jerry Seinfeld
While very few comics are 100% original, Fallon gets singled out more than others for repurposing ideas that don’t organically feel like his own. Rather than pioneering his own signature segments, to critics he feels more like an imitator amalgamating others’ proven formulas for easy laughs.
He Is Not Known as a Groundbreaking Comedian
Unlike comedians and hosts who have intensely devoted fanbases due to iconic stand-up or comedy careers, Jimmy Fallon built his name more through sketch comedy and impressions. He rose up through SNL, a variety show dependent more on the strength of casts’ combined chemistry rather than individual breakout stars.
As a result, critics would struggle to name a classic stand-up set or comedy tour that made them diehard Jimmy Fallon fans. Despite his prominence now, he is not revered as a uniquely talented comedian with an original voice like Pryor, Seinfeld, Rock, or Louis CK. Fallon is more of an entertainer who delivers other people’s material rather than an ingenious writer or performer.
His Tenure at SNL Did Not Spawn Memorable Characters
Jimmy Fallon became a cast member on Saturday Night Live in 1998 and stayed on the show until 2004. While undoubtedly a big break, Fallon never emerged as a standout star that defined any era of SNL.
Unlike breakouts like Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, or Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon did not create identifiable popular characters on SNL that became cultural institutions. Despite his six seasons on a landmark show, few memorable original characters or sketches can be closely associated with Fallon himself. His lack of signature SNL roles reinforces his reputation as more of an entertainer than pioneering comedy force.
Conclusion: Fallon is Far From Universally Loved But Connects With Many
Jimmy Fallon clearly elicits strongly divided opinions – while he has earned an enormous fanbase as host of The Tonight Show, he also rubs some viewers the wrong way for multiple reasons. His tendency towards over-the-top enthusiasm and friendliness strikes some as cloying and calculated. His interview style can seem superficial and celebrity-obsessed rather than incisive. Much of his comedy comes across as unoriginal, derivative, and sometimes outright juvenile rather than groundbreaking. And his chummy treatment of controversial public figures frustrates viewers wanting accountability.
However, despite these criticisms, it is important to note that Fallon undeniably connects with a mainstream audience. The fact remains that The Tonight Show is still the number one late night show on television under his stewardship. While his seeming desire to please everyone may ring false for some, many clearly respond to his positivity and humor. Striking the right balance between being inoffensive and honest is a difficult line for any host to walk.
In the end, those who dislike Fallon likely do so primarily because his style feels tailored to such a wide audience rather than having an edge. But appealing to the broadest common denominator is also a proven formula for success in late night television. So whether one finds him too bland or just charming enough likely says more about their own comedic tastes than any huge flaws or merits on Fallon’s part. He evokes strong opinions across the spectrum, making him an interesting lightning rod in today’s late night wars.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do some find Jimmy Fallon fake or disingenuous?
His tendency to laugh at every joke, cheer ecstatically, and fawn over guests strikes detractors as exaggerated and aimed more at getting a reaction than being authentic. To critics, he seems like he’s trying too hard to be liked.
How is Fallon seen as a poor interviewer by his critics?
He frequently seems unprepared with weak questions aimed primarily at promoting a guest’s latest project. He also interrupts guests and focuses too much on games rather than substantive conversation.
What comedy bits of Fallon’s are considered juvenile?
Segments like Ew! (in which he plays a bubbly teenage girl), Lip Sync Battle, and messy games like water gun fights reinforce a silly, childish brand of humor to skeptics.
Why was his interview with Donald Trump controversial?
Fallon received backlash for his friendly, unchallenging interview with Trump in September 2016 during the presidential campaign. Critics felt he missed an opportunity to hold Trump accountable.
How did Fallon allegedly usurp The Tonight Show from Conan?
Fallon benefited from messy network politics in 2010 when Leno took back Tonight from O’Brien. Fallon’s silence during the controversy and later succession struck many as opportunistic.