Well we're a mere three months out from the debut of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (oh that's a fun mouthful to type), which means the wheels are churning on the ol' late night machine. Things are happening, sets are rising, Lorne Michaels is probably off somewhere scowling, and the first guests are getting booked. Oh my goodness, it's all really happening, you guys: the new generation of late night hosts are taking over.
But regardless of your preference for the old guard or the new, one thing is for certain: it takes a shit ton of work to get a late night show of the ground, especially one as venerated (and recently controversial) as the desk on The Tonight Show. From the New York Times:
Much of the planning for the first three weeks of the new show is already in place," Mr. Fallon said. “I know the first guest, kind of,” he said, adding that he and his writers have “about four options” for how the first edition of the new Tonight show will open. “I don’t think it will be a pretaped bit. I probably want to do it live,” Mr. Fallon said, declining to give more details.
So: who might the lucky first guest be... kind of (whatever that means)? We're not sure but we've got some guesses as to who it could be — and why those choices might rule... or do something less-than-rule. (We're looking at you, Timberlake! Sorry.)
Jay LenoThis one feels obvious. Which could be good... or just plain annoying considering this isn't Leno's first departure from the desk. Sure, it could be adorable if Leno, say, came out and attempted to monologue instead of heading to the chair, only to switch places with Fallon momentarily before switching back before hitting Leno with a "So, you're unemployed now!" But considering how great Fallon and Co.'s video parodies of the late night wars are, it doesn't seem necessary to hash out all of this niceness and gratitude over and over again.
Justin TimberlakeAn unpopular opinion for the ages, but: please, no Justin Timberlake. Because when Timberlake is pit up against a comedian, he so frequently tries to (subconsciously or otherwise) one-up them, out-funny them, and then make the audience his trusty steed that he may gallop on out into the sunset. Considering it's Fallon's very big night at that, it seems unfair to put him next to someone who demands to be the center of attention at all times.
Tina FeyAww, Weekend Update desk memories! Wouldn't it be sweet if Fallon — who has such amazing chemistry with Fey it's nearly at Defcon 37 — brought on his show the first person he ever shared a desk with on TV? Plus any excuse to see the perma-funny duo play Box of Lies is A-OK with us, folks.
Seth MeyersSimilarly to the Leno option, Meyers could be cute and a fun way of passing the baton — but it still feels better suited to something video-related shown at the end of one show leading into the next. Still, we don't hate the idea, but we're not writing home to mom about it, either.
David Letterman & Jimmy KimmelThe chances of Letterman doing anything that involves The Tonight Show is pretty much a guaranteed 0, but it feels totally in line with Fallon's style to play the inclusivity card pretty hard, especially after the last go-around in the late night wars. Plus watching Letterman squirm under the quick-witted pressure of the dual Jimmies sounds like a guaranteed good time.
Conan O'BrienGosh: O'Brien's self deprecation alongside Fallon's goofy guffaws would be a surefire comedy hit. There would be plenty of awkward but tons of laughter and just imagine the dancing and singing that could take place. And considering their common ground (Late Night) it might be a nice way to bury the hatchet of these silly late night talk show host kerfuffles and finally — finally! — look forward.