May 28, 2024

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Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, is about to celebrate his 10th anniversary fronting a franchise that first began with Steve Allen behind the desk in 1954, followed by Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien (and Jay Leno again) — and he’s keen to keep it going.

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Speaking about Carson’s record as the longest-running (and most-identifiable) host of this seminal late-night show, Fallon said during a panel at Deadline’s Contenders Television event, “I’m gonna go, you guys want me? Let’s break the record, let’s go, let’s do 30 years!”

RELATED: Contenders TV – Deadline’s Full Coverage

Fallon himself has already spent 25 years at NBC in different incarnations. He started on Saturday Night Live in 1998 (“thinking that’s the goal”) and has now “for more than half of my life been at the same building.”

Fallon’s Tonight Show incorporates more than just talk, and Deadline’s Pete Hammond asked him whether Tonight now is more of a variety show than a talker. “Yeah, may be considered a talk show, but it’s really a variety show,” Fallon said. He added that he had gotten advice from Conan O’Brien who had gotten advice from Carson who told him, “With this job, you’ll do everything you’ve ever learned. Everything.”

That was true, Fallon said, “I can barely tap dance, I can do impressions… I’ve done all of them numerous times on the show” and then, how many times can he mimic John Travolta or Adam Sandler? Fallon added that he used to be so excited by being called up for one sketch on SNL — “That was a big deal” — but now he’s in a job “where I’m in every sketch every night… This is like for a kid when I’m 12 years old, in my bedroom looking in the mirror lip-synching Steve Martin bits; to see that I got this job it feels so lucky — it’s the best word I can think of; it feels so lucky to made people laugh.”

Speaking about how social/digital media is bringing the show to the world, Fallon said,  “I wish that Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Johnny were here to see where i’m taking their show.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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