Never one to mince words, Howard Stern had some tough advice for Jimmy Fallon about the latter's impending takeover of “The Tonight Show.”
During a visit to “Late Night,” Stern congratulated Fallon on the “fantastic” news, although as one of Jay Leno’s most outspoken detractors, the truth is it wouldn’t take much to make him happy.
“I subscribe to the anyone-but-Jay philosophy,” Stern explained. “If they had replaced Jay with [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad over in Iran, I am telling you I wouldn’t have cared. Charlie Manson could have taken over ‘The Tonight Show,’ as long as it’s not Jay Leno.”
From there, Stern commandeered the interview, interrogating Fallon about how he plans to adjust the show for an earlier time slot while also berating Fallon's house band, the Roots, for their decidedly 12:30 a.m. song choices (e.g. Morrissey).
After a brief digression about Fallon’s sexuality (“I used to think you were so gay”), Stern urged the host to abandon his show’s signature quirks in favor of a long, topical monologue.
“You’re gonna have to sit and do 20 minutes of jokes. These idiots will turn you off if you don’t do a long, drawn-out monologue with every lame joke on the planet,” Stern said. “It seems that that’s the main thing of ‘The Tonight Show.’ Johnny did it, Jay did it, you’re going to have to do it.
“Sitting there looking at Atari videos — you can’t do that at 11:30. You’re competing against Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel. Arsenio’s starting up again. You’re going to be lucky if you get a 2 share,” he continued. “It’s a jungle, you don’t have the killer instinct.”
“I don’t,” Fallon agreed, “but I think we have a solid show.”
As a good friend of Fallon’s soon-to-be competitor, Jimmy Kimmel, Stern admitted his loyalties were divided: “I like you, but I think I like Jimmy [Kimmel] better.”
But Stern wasn’t quite done issuing advice, telling Fallon he would need to be aggressive about booking guests.
“Jimmy [Kimmel] already said, ‘I’m going to win on guests, 'cause I’m in Los Angeles and Jimmy Fallon is in New York.’ He’s already plotting your demise and you’re sitting here like nothing’s happening. Wake up!”
Plus, Stern said, “I can’t come on here every night.”
Fallon is probably grateful for that.