In the world of late night talk shows, there is a pattern to be found across most of the board, and that pattern involves covering the ins and outs of Donald Trump's headline-friendly White House. But while Stephen Colbert's Late Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and more are places where audiences can find all the satirical commentary imaginable across the political spectrum, you won't see much of it happening on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The host and SNL vet has sometimes taken it on the chin for avoiding such topical material, but here's why he doesn't get political.
It's just not what I do. I think it would be weird for me to start doing it now. I don't really even care that much about politics. I've got to be honest. I love pop culture more than I love politics. I'm just not that brain.
There are, of course, at least two ways to react to this answer. For those who have remained critical of Jimmy Fallon's apolitical vibe, which hit an apex during Hair-RuffleGate back when Donald Trump last made his guest appearance, the response would be that "politics are too important in America to just ignore." With a platform as big as The Tonight Show, Fallon could easily use his position to sway certain demographics in one direction or another, even if that demographic is just "people that like to watch celebs lip syncing."
The opposing side would be to say that The Tonight Show has always been a show meant to be more of a light-hearted and fluffy slice of entertainment for TV viewers to watch before falling asleep without their nerves being completely frayed from whatever political fracas is erupting in one minute or the next. And even though Jimmy Fallon would get into some touchy subject matter on Saturday Night Live and beyond, he's definitely never been the kind of comedian that people would refer to as "politically edgy." To that end, his name would probably never be used in the same sentence as Stephen Colbert if he wasn't hosting a late night talk show.
It does seem that modern TV viewers are down with watching talk shows get more politically active, as seen by how The Late Show does against The Tonight Show in the viewership department, even if the key 18-49 demographic ratings are still getting topped by Fallon's audience. Jimmy Kimmel Live! is also closing in on Tonight Show's overall audience totals, making it quite the competitive time slot. But as Fallon put it during his Today interview, he doesn't have any glaring problems with seeing other hosts take on politically charged material.
No, I mean, I think the other guys are doing it very well. Colbert's doing great, I mean that's what he's good at. He's always into like a political comedy. I think when it's organic, I'll dip into it as well.
Not that Jimmy Fallon completely skips over Donald Trump stories during his monologues and other segments; I mean, he has portrayed Trump himself a time or two. But he goes for the easy gags in lieu of incisive humor, because that's what works for him. Maybe someday soon we'll get to see the Tonight Show host get a little more Jon Stewart-y with his approach, but for now, expect more axes being thrown and other goofy celebrity moments.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights on NBC at 11:35 p.m. ET. Hit up our fall TV premiere schedule to see when all the new and returning shows are taking over the small screen in the near future.