It Takes a Nation of Nerds to Make Jimmy Fallon a Late Night Host

Jimmy Fallon sure has been wooing the nerds recently. The former Saturday Night Live cast member/chronic giggler will take over Late Night from Conan O’Brien, who in turn is moving up to The Tonight Show starting March 2 (there’s a countdown widget, if you’re into that sort of thing), and he has been on the West Coast working the press for the past few weeks.

Last Friday, Mr. Fallon channeled his inner geek (he probably didn’t have to dig deep) and shared a beer with Digg founder Kevin Rose and co-host Alex Albrecht during the popular-among-the-nerds Diggnation Web show. Mr. Fallon was Diggnation’s first guest out of their 185 episodes and chatted about Star Wars, how not to use Facebook, and … sandwiches. He also did an interview with the guys for his own site, which is posted above.

On Jan. 21, he posted a video blog about creating a World of Warcraft character with Felicia Day, a popular actress on a few Web TV shows and former Buffy character. Gizmodo called him the "First Geek’s Talk Show Host" for name-dropping services like Flickr and using Skype to chat with guests on his show. And, of course, Twittering.

In an interview at the Winter Television Critics Association press tour, he told BuzzSugar that his show will cater to the geeks in a big way:

I think our show is going to be a lot more tech, gadgetry talk . . . I think we’ll treat a video game premiere almost like a movie premiere. My generation grew up with the Internet, it’s second nature to us. We live in a video game kind of world. I’m interested in tech and I’m interested in gadgets. Whether it’s Bill Gates or the guy who designed the new Palm Pre. I wanna see new video cameras, new technology.

Will having one of their own behind the Late Night desk be the ultimate revenge of the nerds? (Since Mr. O’Brien is such a brawny alpha male.) Or is Mr. Fallon merely pandering for Internet fame?

Funny that Mr. Fallon is embracing the nerds now, since he made his career by making fun of them. Remember his SNL character Nick Burns, "Your Company’s Computer Guy"? Or his Web cam parody Jarret’s Room?

Sure, those were from a long time ago, but last year he made a Web video with Funny or Die making fun of YouTube stars as LonelyFallon32. Maybe now he’s realizing that these kids actually have influence on and off the Web world.

But one techie fan he was hesitant to canoodle with was poor New York Times Magazine Medium columnist Virginia Heffernan, who championed Mr. Fallon on his Facebook page, and has been vigorously commenting on his video blog.

In her Jan. 9th piece for the magazine, Ms. Heffernan seems all crushed out on Mr. Fallon, describing him as "depressed in a ‘Mystic River’ Irish-American way but not tragic, and also unprofessional because he lets other people crack him up." She explains her e-stalking this way: "The goal of any engaged viewer seems to be to get incorporated into Fallon’s video world. In trying to make it onto the video blog, I have given up all haughty critical distance and tried to entertain Fallon and his entourage. Their reaction? A stomach-churning ‘is this thing on?’ silence."

After a few comments and messages, it seems he finally got back to her though. She notes at the last line of the piece: "(Hold up: could this be a Facebook message from Fallon? It is! Oh, Jimmy, now I’ll never stop watching.)."

It Takes a Nation of Nerds to Make Jimmy Fallon a Late Night Host