Jimmy Fallon really ought to avoid politics

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large
Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon has never really recovered — in the minds of many, and perhaps in the ratings — from fondly mussing Donald Trump’s hair during the last presidential campaign. The Tonight Show host has spent the months since then making mild jokes about Trump and other political figures, but has done nothing as pointed as his competitors, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel, have. And that’s all right; he has his own kind of show, mostly all giggles and games. But on Wednesday night, his guest was Hillary Clinton, and Fallon gave over his desk to a succession of women writers on the Tonight Show staff, who hijacked Fallon’s “thank-you notes” segment to pen mawkish notes of gratitude to Hillary. Intended sincerely, it came across awfully cringe-y, especially when Hillary herself sat in Fallon’s chair to pen her own little love note to America.

On Thursday night’s Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News, The Five’s Greg Gutfeld came on to critique the segment, and did so in a very funny way, pointing out that Fallon himself seemed to be trying to distance himself as much as possible from his own segment.

So Fallon’s political-humor problem persists. Ironically, Fallon could have discussed politics and been funny if he’d only taken advantage of the presence of his guests on Thursday night, the great Desus and Mero. On their Viceland show, they offer wide-ranging and hilariously pointed nightly commentary about the Trump administration. But, alas, Fallon chickened out and limited their segment to a discussion about apple-picking. That said, the segment was pretty funny anyway.

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on NBC.

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