Jimmy Fallon has long been at the top of our list of media personalities who exemplify certain aspects of metamodernism. We were interested to discover that in March 2013, GQ Magazine published an analysis of Fallon’s comedic style as essentially metamodern (not that the writer knew about metamodernism or at least s/he didn’t use that term). Highlighted in the article, “Jimmy Fallon: The New King of Late Night TV” was how his rise to fame has centered around making it cool to be emotional, earnest and to express childlike joyfulness – which we see as key components of a metamodern cultural sensibility.
This is GQ, describing what was special about JF’s first talk show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon:
Fallon wasn’t edgy. Fallon wasn’t dark or complicated. Fallon was perhaps too cute for late-night audiences used to hanging out with the snarky, cool crowd. “Yeah, the cool crowd was always beyond my grasp.”
Fallon’s brand of comedy included the audience in the experience, and that, it would turn out, was prescient. “On Late Night, it’s like we’re all in on the joke … That’s what I wanted it to be. I’m not doing something sneaky. Inside jokes, I don’t like those. We can all ride together, and everyone’s on the same thing.”
Fallon offered a new mood for the post-irony crowd – a new generation with a taste for immediately streamable chunks of unabashed pop-culture sugar that didn’t pretend to be nutritious, symbolic, relevant, or important. “I just feel like people like a little break … Especially at 12:37 at night, you go like, ‘I’m just tired of the snarky right now. I just want to lie down and have somebody make me laugh for an hour.’”
Fallon’s late-night persona is gracious. He wears a suit, after all. “People say to me, ‘Yeah, dude, lose the suit. It’s so not you.’ I’m like, ‘I’m hosting a talk show.’ You should show respect for your guests and your audience. I always wanted to wear the suit.”
(Commenting on the silly games that are part of Fallon’s oeuvre:)
The Fallon gospel was clear: It’s okay, America. It’s okay to lie there in your bed hoping with all your heart that some friggin’ noodles plop through a basketball hoop. The noodles swished through the net, became entangled, a kind of satisfying vomit, and all the people cheered.
In another seemingly inadvertent exposition of a metamodern style of entertainment, GQ Mag selected Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake the 2011 Co-Men of the Year (a very bromancy move, and arguably implicitly metamodern, in itself). In an interview, they discuss “Why it’s cool to be earnest.” The mag states:
Together these pals pioneered a shinier, happier, singier-and-dancier brand of entertainment. …
[We] convened the two most thrilled-to-be-alive, irony-free, super-duper shamelessly happy men on the planet for a state of the union. And you know what? By the end of this conversation, we felt pretty warm inside.
Thank you, GQ, for doing our job! We feel pretty warm inside too.