Jimmy Fallon ups his game for Indy taping

Tonight, my point will be proven on late night TV. But if you are reading this before 12:30 Wednesday evening, you’ll have to take my word that Jimmy Fallon seriously upped his game for at least the first installment of his four-show stint in Indy.

Warning: Spoilers a-plenty ahead.

Fallon didn’t just pay lip service to the city, he embraced it with a bold new opening sequence including high-energy shots of Monument Circle, Mass Ave’s “Ann Dancing” neon, and more. He worked Indy smartly into the monologue and made great use of a dozen-plus Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra musicians, especially during the “Freestylin’ with the Roots” segment using audience members as the inspiration for improvised songs.

Guest announcer Deion Sanders didn’t have much to do, but the audience loved having him there.Tracy Morgan brought big laughs as the first guest in a segment that moved swiftly. The Tim Tebow segment was okay, although Fallon didn’t seem to have much to ask (when in doubt, use a T-shirt cannon). Even better were two hilarious video segments, one the world premiere of “Subs Across America,” built from audience videos. The other featured some inspired craziness that stretched a segment intro into an extended musical sequence involving Bob Costas, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and some creative slapping.

My only concern is that identifying the group of musicians on stage as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra may make the world think we have the tiniest symphony in the country. Ah, well, that’s a small price to pay for great exposure for the city…and a fast, fun hour of TV for audiences.

Note: Off stage, it was a fun show to watch being put together—except for the warm-up act who flubbed the name of the building (Herbert Circle Theatre…really?) thus throwing off his opening—and pretty much only—joke. As expected, Fallon’s house band, The Roots, were terrific even when the cameras weren’t rolling.

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