Helming a late-night show is one of the great feats of comedy—to show up, more or less, five days a week; deliver a timely monologue; riff spiritedly with your bandleader; do a couple stupid skits or games and seem to enjoy them; and then endure a gauntlet of press-touting interviews, all broadcast nation-wide. There’s not a lot of room for error, so you’re going to want to play it safe, in general.
Still, watching late-night’s onetime leader Jimmy Fallon set up and knock down the same pretty-bad joke over and over again in the video above is pretty dispiriting. His “Screengrabs” segment is an updated version of Leno’s old “Headlines” segment, here modernized to be about wild errors and ephemera from the internet, and in the video above he displays PG-13 “Captcha” codes with an identical set-up, punchline, and seemingly extemporaneous ad lib, over and over again. It’s the ad lib that really needs to be retired here.
There’s a fine line between a recurring bit and a recycled joke that this straddles pretty finely, and the hundreds of comments under the video on Reddit actually tussle with that dichotomy pretty interestingly. And anyway, as one user notes, it’s a fine opportunity to bring up one of David Letterman’s great, repeating throwaway lines: