Kimmel vs. Fallon: A tale of two Jimmies

Jimmy Fallon

By ADAM BUCKMAN

Someday, all late-night hosts will be named Jimmy.  But until then, we’ll settle for the two we have now – Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, who just happen to be doing the brightest shows in late-night.

And we can’t help but be fascinated that both of these guys are named Jimmy, which is pretty incredible when you consider that there aren’t that many late-night hosts to begin with.

How many?  Let’s count ’em off: Dave, Jay, Conan, Craig (Ferguson), George (Lopez), Jimmy (Fallon) and Jimmy (Kimmel).  That’s seven male late-night personalities hosting “traditional” late-night shows (which is why we’re leaving out Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert) and two of them are named Jimmy.  Or, to put it another way, nearly 29 percent (more than a quarter, almost a third!) of all male late-night hosts are named Jimmy.

Moreover, the two Jimmies compete against each other, but only for 25 minutes – which means that, when you’re deciding between the two, it comes down to choosing (roughly) the first half of “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” on NBC (12:35-1:35 a.m./11:35-12:35c) over the second half of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC (midnight-1 a.m./11c-midnight).

Jimmy Kimmel

Adding to the vexation: The two Jimmies are eerily similar and yet, at the same time, they’re so so different!

Did you know that both Jimmies were born in Brooklyn?

Kimmel, a Scorpio born on Nov. 13, 1967, is 43.  He and his family moved to Las Vegas when he was nine.  Fallon, a Virgo, is 36.  He was born on Sept. 19, 1974.  He and his family moved to the town of Saugerties in upstate New York when he was little.  And get this: The fathers of both Jimmies worked for IBM (according to Wikipedia).  Coincidence?!  Probably.

Of course, both Jimmies grew up to become late-night talk-show hosts.  And, while Kimmel’s been at it longer, both Jimmies got their late-night gigs at around the same age.  Kimmel was 35 when he got his show in 2003 after ABC enticed him away from “The Man Show” on Comedy Central.  Fallon became host of NBC’s “Late Night” at age 34 in March 2009 after Conan O’Brien left to take over “The Tonight Show.”

Here in the present day, the two Jimmies are scoring very similar ratings.  In the most recent late-night ratings report – for the week of April 4-8, Kimmel had a slight lead, attracting an average of 1.789 million viewers each night, compared to Fallon’s average of 1.675 million.  One reason Kimmel was out ahead: His lead-in, “Nightline,” beat Fallon’s lead-in, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” that week in the nightly total-viewer count.

But that’s where the similarities seem to end.  Kimmel’s rise in show business differed markedly from Fallon’s.  Before co-hosting “The Man Show” with Adam Carolla, Kimmel was Ben Stein’s sidekick on the old Comedy Central quiz show “Win Ben Stein’s Money.”  Fallon, of course, came up via “Saturday Night Live,” where he appeared from 1998 to 2004, then left NBC to star in a string of movies.

The two Jimmies have both coasts covered.  Kimmel’s doing “Jimmy Kimmel Live” from the heart of Hollywood.  His greatest talent – other than affecting a relaxed, unruffled and slightly disheveled demeanor every night – is his ability for making A-list friends in Hollywood and then recruiting them to participate in his most elaborate bits (“The Handsome Mens Club,” “Hottie Body Hump Club,” “The King’s Speech” spoof he did on Oscar night with Mike Tyson, and many others).

Fallon’s hosting NBC’s “Late Night” from the heart of Manhattan – at NBC’s storied headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.  He possesses basic performing skills that Kimmel lacks – most notably Fallon’s musical ability and a talent for impersonation (though possessing these skills has never been a requirement for hosting a late-night show).  It’s a matter of individual taste, but we happen to think Fallon’s extremely likable.  And we love the bits he and his writers have developed – “Thank You Notes,” “Robert Pattinson Is Bothered” and many others.  And we love Fallon’s band, The Roots.

So who’s the best Jimmy in late-night?  We reported, now you decide!

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