11.3 million: Viewers who tuned in to watch his first night as host of NBC's Tonight Show
Why he matters: Who would have thought Fallon -- that scrappy SNLer best known for musical impressions and characters like Jarret the webcam stoner -- would command late night's most hallowed institution? Well, Lorne Michaels. He campaigned to have Fallon take over for a departing Conan O'Brien in 2009. The world knows how that played out for O'Brien (cue trombone slide), but long shot Fallon proved perfect for the job, his unjaded enthusiasm, absurdist humor and social-media know-how adding up to an addictive talk-show cocktail. Fast-forward to April, and the 39-year-old funnyman, six weeks into his high-stakes Tonight gig, is pulling in stunning ratings, with an average 5.2 million viewers tuning in nightly to catch such high-wattage guests as Michelle Obama and Will Ferrell, who both participated in a teen-girl talk-show sketch called "Ew!" (Fallon, who lives with his producer wife, Nancy Juvonen, and their baby daughter in Gramercy Park East, says it was the comedy highlight of his year.) In the words of giddy NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, "If we could have had anybody in the world for 11:35, it would have been Jimmy."
Proudest accomplishment this year: Not a hard one for Fallon, who tells THR, "Bringing The Tonight Show back to New York City for the first time in over 40 years."
Goal for next year: "Drastic plastic surgery."
He can't work without: "Our writers. They keep coming up with fresh ideas every week. I don't know how they do it. Except [longtime colleague] Patrick Borelli, who's represented at [comedy managers] Principato Young by Tucker Voorhees. So if you know of any work, he'll be looking soon."