Jimmy Fallon at The Pabst Theater
The Late Night comic returns to working Saturday nights with ho-hum results
- Bill Cosby delivers lighthearted enlightenment at Riverside Theater
- Satan for the masses: Ghost B.C. brings spooky Swedish metal to Turner Hall
- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club deliver bombastic, potent show at Turner Hall
- Joe Bonamassa falls into familiar blues groove at Riverside Theater
- Milwaukee Psych Fest delivers variations on a tripped-out theme
Since taking over as host of Late Night, Jimmy Fallon has looked anything but comfortable; he seems desperate, like he’s still trying to convince much of the country—and perhaps even himself—that he is a worthy successor to Conan O’Brien. Maybe personal appearances like Fallon’s performance on Saturday at The Pabst Theater are an attempt to get the stand-up veteran back in comedic shape. But even if he appears more at ease, that doesn’t necessarily make him any funnier.
Much of Fallon’s act was tired and dated, focusing on mundane topics such as SkyMall catalogs, the evolution of water pistols, and the trauma of buying new underwear, as well as song parodies like “I Kissed Al Gore” (done to the tune of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl”). Better was a brief return to “The Barry Gibb Talk Show,” which was probably the funniest thing Fallon did during his rather unremarkable stint on Saturday Night Live.
As Fallon got into character, he asked a woman from the audience to join him onstage. He soon used the moment to put the woman on the spot, asking her to dance along to his impromptu Barry Gibb song/rant, which she did. The woman quickly moved behind Fallon and began to not-so-subtlety grind on him. Fallon, wisely realizing the comedic value of an impromptu crotch thrust, kept going and used the incident to spark a very funny conversation between the woman and her husband. His banter, for once, seemed natural, and Fallon was engaging in a way that undoubtedly would have pleased his Late Night handlers.
Still, Fallon was mostly devoid of identity. This was mostly apparent in the last bit of the night, where Fallon pointed out that almost every prominent song from the ’80s could be sung to the beat of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.” Fallon leaned heavily on the comedy of nostalgia, an approach that elicited chuckles from the audience because the popular culture of the past was supposedly so darn silly. (Did I really like Falco? Crazy!). It was definitely fun, but not all that funny—which wasn’t just true of this show, but of Fallon’s overall aesthetic.