Barbra Streisand on 'The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon': TV Review

Barbra Streisand Tonight Show Jimmy Fallon - H 2014
Douglas Gorenstein/NBC

Barbra Streisand Tonight Show Jimmy Fallon - H 2014

The broadcast was a win-win.

The singer made her first late-night appearance as a guest in decades

Barbra Streisand’s Monday-night appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon was a win-win: the singer in creamy-good voice and sharply funny; the host energetically playful, disarming a guest who might have been intimidating — or intimidated. Streisand got to demonstrate her ongoing presence as a great star, on one of the better nights Fallon has had since taking over the Tonight Show.

Streisand assented to Fallon’s request that she sit in the host's chair. From behind the desk, she delved into Tonight Show lore, telling Fallon that Jack Paar “didn’t like me” and that she therefore made her first Tonight Show appearance when Orson Bean was the substitute host. (Hey, kids, trust me: Bean was a marvelously wry comic raconteur.) She then appeared with Johnny Carson hosting numerous times, but, except for a brief walk-on stunt with David Letterman in 1994, Streisand hadn’t been on a late-night talk show hawking her wares in more than half a century.

Her new album is Partners, on which she duets with singers including Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Lionel Ritchie, Blake Shelton, Michael Buble, and, from beyond the grave, Elvis Presley. Fallon’s approach to the talk show — less talk, more fooling around — works best when he has a guest who’s game. Streisand could have coasted on diva noblesse oblige; instead, she dove right in: Babs engaged in a medley of duets with Fallon, with Fallon impersonating Presley, Shelton, and Buble.

Streisand got serious, however, with the song that closed out the show: a solo version of “Come Rain or Come Shine” that showcased the full range of her voice, pure and surging, teasing out the witty sensuousness of the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer composition. After that, there was nothing left for Fallon to do but say good night.

In case you missed it, covered Streisand's appearance blow-by-blow. Here's a quick replay.