It’s not a job. Jimmy Fallon really loves music, so much so that he’s got an entire room in his house dedicated to his vinyl collection. There he dutifully dusts off his LPs (“There must be fingerprints. It looks like peanut butter and jelly”), and cleans his needle. Sometimes he makes his own music here, and if the mood strikes, all hell breaks loose.
That love of music is evident on “The Tonight Show,” which he hosted for nine seasons, jamming alongside some of pop music’s biggest names … and now, on his musical game show “That’s My Jam,” featuring the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Ariana Grande. Artists are having a little fun, reminding us what makes them superstars.
“Kelly and Ariana can really sing,” Fallon said. “And they were going for it. When Kelly sings Whitney Houston, the place melts. Like, they almost don’t even need a microphone. It’s amazing when you see that kind of talent on a show.”
Mixtape Medley with Ariana Grande and Kelly Clarkson That’s My Jam from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on YouTube
Fallon describes himself as “the most entertaining man in the world,” as much a fan as a host. It shows.
Roca asked, “You have been accused of acting like you like everything. How do you respond to this serious charge?”
“I want everything to work,” he replied. “And I know that people come to my shows, they’re selling something, I have to sell them stuff. And I know how much work goes into it. You make a movie, and it’s four months of shooting and then two months of sales. It’s, so it’s Half a year of your life. I want it to be a hit. So, I always root for everything.”
Fallon’s cheerleader may be a legacy of her mother Gloria, whom she describes as her biggest booster. “My mom died five years ago now. But it’s interesting to find all the clippings of everything. What newspaper, what TV guide, what mention was I in? My mom used to cut it out. Like, she’d call me and be like, ‘ You’re on “Ellen” or whatever. I go, ‘Yeah, I know! I’m me. Of course. You’re telling me I’m on, yeah, I know I am.’ But he will remind me that I am.”
Fallon has almost always done clean work. It may have had something to do with his upbringing in a middle-class family in Saugerties, New York. The cast included Mom and Dad, Jim Fallon, Sr., and Jimmy and his older sister, named Gloria.
“My parents were very, very strict,” he said. “Irish Catholic. No dirty words. No sexy anything. We used to videotape ‘Friday Night Videos.’ And my dad would watch them the next day on the weekend, and actually, like, splice and, like, go from VCR to VCR just to give us the videos we were allowed to watch.”
“So, what did he actually manage to do, edit these shows to make a kid-friendly version?” asked Roka.
“Yeah. I remember one time my dad, I had a Rodney Dangerfield album, ‘No Respect.’ And my dad would use a car key to scrape any dirty sound off the album. So, I’d listen to Rodney Dangerfield and completely miss the punchline. And I thought that was funny! He’s like, ‘I’ll tell you, my wife, you know. , he ………………’ and then people clap, you know? ‘Yeah, that’s a good joke.’ I missed the whole joke! He scratched it with a key so I couldn’t hear the dirty sound.”
Rocca asked, “Do you think that was a good thing or a bad thing when you look back on it?”
“I look back on it and I think it’s a little crazy, you know?” Fallon said. “Also, it doesn’t seem to affect me that much. I’ve never, ever done something really dirty. I’ve done it a few times, you know? And I remember my grandfather took me to a gig once and I said the F-word. And it It felt so weird. And the drive home was so quiet. It was like, ‘I’m sorry. Yeah, I did it.’
“I didn’t even smile!”
There were rules. But the family also knew how to have a good time, like when her mom and dad would lip sync “You Won’t Bring Me Flowers.” “Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, and at the end, we had these fake flowers in the living room, and my sister and I would throw roses at them in the kitchen. And they’d bow and put things away. It wasn’t for anybody, yeah, just for us. .”
“This family dynamic, it really sounds like you’re describing something that you would have on the show,” Rocca said.
“But this, it was normal for us,” Fallon said. “We’ll do it a lot of times. It’ll be a little bit. Like, we’ll say, ‘Are you going to do the ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’ bit? Let’s do that again. It’s good.’ We all have our bits that we’ll do.”
Fallon, 48, now has a family of his own. He married producer Nancy Juvonen in 2007. They have two daughters.
Roca asked him, “How long do you want to see him in this job?”
“To me, it’s a lifetime’s work,” Juvonen replied.
“Oh! Like, Pope? Like King?”
“No, not quite, maybe!” She smiled. “Whatever he feels good about. But why I say that is this: He creates, like, every day. So it’s like, ‘I want to do this.’ And he’s singing. And it doesn’t matter who’s there. He’s making music just for me, for the kids. And so, this way, this place, this kind of outlet, I love it for him. When this energy goes away. Don’t know where it goes, because it’s the gig of a lifetime, if you like it.”
“And so, he’s doing the perfect job for her?” asked Roka.
“To me, yes.”
And as long as he can help it, Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” will remain witty, funny and sunny.
“It was hard to do the show, you know, after my mom passed,” Fallon said. “It’s, like, what are you going to do? You have a job. And you hear a song or something and you’re like, ‘Ugh, I’m going to cry.’ But, you know, you can’t, because I don’t think you want to see the host upset.”
Rocca said, “I’m curious why you thought you shouldn’t cry? Because as a host, aren’t you a little bit like a proxy for the audience?”
“No, I don’t really like those show moments. I really want to be an outlet for joy.”
“It should be an hour where you don’t have to think, and you go, ‘Look at this idiot, he’s doing something ridiculous,’ and then you fall asleep,” Fallon laughs. “That would be the best response I’ve ever had from any of my fans: ‘Thank you, thank you for being stupid so you don’t make me think about my problems.'”
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Story produced by Kay Lim. Editor: Steven Tyler.