Saturday Night Live has a long history of launching the careers of comedians and performers who go on to make significant impacts on pop culture, and Jimmy Fallon grew up a student of the show. Practicing his impressions of cast members like Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler and Eddie Murphy as a teenager, Fallon didn’t realize at the time that he was rehearsing for one of the most coveted jobs in entertainment.

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The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon - Season 1

Jimmy Fallon: Man of the Night

Now, as host of NBC’s The Tonight Show, Fallon is the king of nighttime television, with legions of fans young and old who are all getting hip to what the 40-year old phenom of talent has done to the seat Johnny Carson turned into a throne. Though impersonation is still a go-to trick he can pull from his bottomless tophat, he has used other tools at his disposal to unite the fractured late-night audience under the same channel.
 

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Fallon is a true lover of music, having learned to play guitar in his early teens and making musical impressions part of his show as well. His ingenious hiring of The Roots, long known in hip-hop culture as the best instrumental ensemble in the genre (and one of the best around in any form of music–period) gave him instant street credibility and relevance to urban audiences. It also provided him with the perfect backup to create monstrously popular, virally shared bits such as “Slow Jam the News” with various guests, performances by Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, and the ongoing “History of Hip-Hop” series with Justin Timberlake.
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