The first late night show to return to its studio is, fittingly, The Tonight Show. Last night, after months of recording the show from his house, Jimmy Fallon opened The Tonight Show with a montage of him making his way to 30 Rock (masked of course), going through multiple safety checks, and then taking the stage. Yes indeed, The Tonight Show is now officially back in 30 Rock to film new episodes.
Fallon explained that the show will now be recording without a live audience, and the crew are all wearing face masks and face shields. He was joined onstage only by The Roots, who are adhering to social distancing measures, and the offices at 30 Rock are apparently being cleaned thoroughly. Guest interviews will still be conducted remotely, only now Fallon will be in the studio when he records the conversation.
I do still wonder how the writing of the show is going – if the writers are still working from home, or if they’re assembled in the Tonight Show offices but adhering to safety protocols. Regardless, this is a pretty significant step towards a “new normal” – and I do mean new normal, as the Tonight Show stage looks different and Fallon has ditched his traditional suit and tie for something a bit more informal.
Conan O’Brien recently started recording his show Conan at the Largo nightclub in Los Angeles, and it’ll be interesting to see how/if Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, James Corden, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, and John Oliver follow suit. Meyers, for one, switched locations to his mother-in-law’s house for last night’s show, but he continues to delight in the humor that recording alone in an attic or guest room can bring. Part of me wants to see him do shows from home on a regular basis, even as Late Night moves back into the studio.
Stay tuned for more as I’m sure we’ll see others follow Fallon’s lead here, and you can watch Fallon’s introduction below. For more late night goodness, check out my recent extended interview with Seth Meyers about making Late Night under quarantine.