A recent tweet from YouTube’s Kevin Allocca says it all.
“Three of the top 5 most-viewed comedy videos of the past two weeks are @jimmyfallon’s,” tweeted Allocca, head of culture and trends at the streaming website.
Ever since Fallon took the Tonight Show chair two weeks ago, clips from his show have been dominating YouTube, with many of his videos earning over a million views. Doesn’t it seem like there’s a new Fallon clip every other day on YouTube’s homepage?
The host takes a Saturday Night Live-like approach to his show, focusing less on a traditional monologue and more on bits and sketches – the kind of moments that could go viral the next morning. And instead of just interviewing celebrities, Fallon convinces his guests to join in on the fun, whether it’s lip-syncing with Paul Rudd, doing the robot dance with Will Smith, or doing another instalment in his ongoing History of Rap with singer Justin Timberlake.
Fallon’s team seems to be chasing video views as much as traditional TV ratings, by creating buzz-worthy clips, building major online traffic and maintaining Fallon’s hip brand with his typically younger audience. Younger than the average Jay Leno fan, at least.
But will it work? NBC posts the sketches on YouTube with no commercials, which means the network isn’t generating revenue from all those views. The number of total views on Fallon’s channel currently sits at five hundred million.
Perhaps NBC assumes that the online buzz will translate to a few more eyeballs while the show airs live, so that fans can see the big moments when they actually happen, in real time. It’s a thrill to see Fallon and Timberlake pick up their microphones and start rhyming, right?
Here are some of Fallon’s recent viral videos, with the number of views as of press time:
LIP SYNC BATTLE WITH PAUL RUDD (7.5 million views):
Fallon challenges Rudd to a lip-sync battle, and after the two men perform hilarious lip-sync versions of songs by Tina Turner and Foreigner, Rudd triumphs with a finger-snapping, butt-slapping rendition of Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. Trust us, it’s better than the lip-sync throwdown he did with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Stephen Merchant last fall.
HISTORY OF RAP 5 WITH JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE (6.5 million views):
Sure, they’ve done it four times previously, but it’s always fun to guess which throwback rap songs they’ll throw into the mix. In this case, we get The Notorious B.I.G.’s Big Poppa, Salt ’N’ Pepa’s Whatta Man, Warren G’s Regulate and the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
EVOLUTION OF HIP-HOP DANCING WITH WILL SMITH (11 million views):
The Fresh Prince nostalgia also seeps into this clip, as Smith and Fallon wear overalls with one strap down while dancing through the history of hip-hop, transitioning between moves like The Running Man, The Dougie and The Twerk.
BRIAN WILLIAMS RAPS RAPPER’S DELIGHT (7 million views):
Wow, Fallon really likes musical sketches, doesn’t he? The clever editing in this clip makes it look like news anchor Brian Williams is rapping the classic hip-hop song Rapper's Delight, and the addition of two other NBC news personalities brings the joke to another level. You know Fallon’s running the game when he doesn’t even have to appear in his own viral videos.
Here are the top 10 videos so far for Jimmy Fallon:
1. “Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing” (w/ Jimmy Fallon and Will Smith
2. Brian Williams Raps “Rapper’s Delight“
3. “History of Rap 5 (Fallon and Justin Timberlake)