Jimmy Fallon rediscovers his inner stand-up on late night TV
Better 'Late' Than Never Jimmy Fallon rediscovers his inner stand-up on late night TV By Michael Pritchard
A funny thing happened to Jimmy Fallon on his way to becoming a late-night TV host. He rediscovered the stand-up comedian in himself.
Since March 2, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon has been on the air, propelling the 34-year-old Saturday Night Live vet into the crowded field of late night television hosts. And yes, that's left Fallon doing an opening monologue each night, though he's getting a lot more attention for his tweeting (or is it twittering?), love of high-tech gadgets and for stunts like calling for the cast of Saved by the Bell to reunite on his show.
But when Fallon rolls into the Borgata this Saturday, April 11, for a one-night performance, he'll be bringing something different to the mix. Audiences will see a side of Fallon that hasn't had much play since before his SNL days.
"It was Lorne Michaels' [his former SNL boss] advice to get back into [stand-up]," Fallon says during a recent conference call with reporters. "I hadn't done it in awhile. After SNL, actually during SNL, I just couldn't write any new material. It got to be the same old material, and it wasn't that great.
"Now, I look back and I wish I'd never stopped because it's really fun," he says. "It's fun to get out there, to see the audiences and see your fans."
Michaels' advice to go back to stand-up came as Fallon was preparing for his new gig as Late Night host. Though Fallon is no stranger to live audiences after years of doing skit comedy on SNL, the act of standing alone on a stage in front of an audience only served to get him ready for late night.
"I think it helps me," he says. "If anything happens, whether it be a heckler or the microphone doesn't work, or the lighting is bad, or my guitar breaks, you just gotta roll with the punches. You gotta be ready for spontaneous combustion."
His act is what you'd expect from a comic so well known from SNL. As you guessed, he'll trot out his guitar and use a lot of what made him a favorite on SNL's "Weekend Update." He'll do some impressions, some comedy songs, some routines on the tech stuff he loves, skewering TV commercials and so on.
Fallon has been on the road with the show for about eight months, polishing it up as he prepared for his late night slot. Like his stand-up act, his talk show duties are something he's embracing, even if it was an unexpected turn in his career.
Again it was Michaels who suggested that Fallon might be the perfect guy to replace Conan O'Brien, who is moving to take Jay Leno's spot on NBC's The Tonight Show.
"I had left Saturday Night Live on great terms and I remember Lorne and I talked about it, and I remember Tina Fey was there as well and she thought it was a good idea," he says.
But Fallon didn't immediately sign on.
"So I went out and did movies and I was like, 'Let's see how that works out.' I did two movies ... and it didn't work out. They didn't do that well. But on the second movie I met my wife, so I got to fall in love.
"Then Lorne called and he said, 'We talked about that talk show thing, what do you think?' I said, 'I don't know; it would be amazing. It would be a dream come true.' And my wife was like, 'You gotta do it. It would be so funny. You gotta give it a shot.'"
Fallon didn't even realize it, but a longtime dream of his was actually coming true. And it was his Mom who remembered that in his eighth-grade yearbook, Fallon was named most likely to replace David Letterman.
"My mom reminded me about that," he says. "Maybe it planted a seed in the back of my head. I don't know what it did. It's up to a psychologist to answer that. But it's kind of cool to think about things like that."
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