The opening monologue is a late-night talk-show staple. It’s usually the least interesting bit, and mostly just proves that hosts aren’t stand-ups (otherwise they’d be doing stand-up). Perhaps recognizing this—or at least acknowledging the mixed reviews of his debut comedy/musical parody album, 2002’s The Bathroom Wall—Late Night host Jimmy Fallon has smartly avoided any spoken material on the new Blow Your Pants Off. The record is instead an assemblage of original compositions and song spoofs, including the already viral hits “History Of Rap” (featuring Justin Timberlake) and “Balls In Your Mouth” (featuring Eddie Vedder).
More of an audio anthology, the record is mostly live material taken from the Late Night stage. And though that seems to be somewhat of a cheat, it’s a tidy collection of the better and more popular bits. (Late Night fans will also appreciate the deluxe-edition inclusion of on-going sketch “Let Us Play With Your Look.”) Where Blow Your Pants Off stands out is in this selection. The many star-studded duets and clever lampoons do more than show off Fallon’s comedic charms; they project his true fanboy appreciation of music and music history. Feeling less like mockery than homage, Fallon’s best laughs come from his most sincere moments. His Neil Young impersonations—on “Neil Young Sings Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” and “Neil Young Sings ‘Whip My Hair’”—work because they are deftly faithful to Young’s style and vocal pitch. It’s this earnestness, this attention to detail, that makes the rock-legend-meets-teen-pop-star contrast so genuinely funny. Likewise, Fallon’s ability to pull that earnestness out of his musical guests—including Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and Stephen Colbert—makes for an unintentional best-of album that asserts, more than anything, Fallon’s undeniable likeability.