Talk show host and comedian Jimmy Fallon is seen in his office at NBC Studios… (Jennifer S. Altman / For…)
NEW YORK — Like a kid showing off his toys, Jimmy Fallon guides a visitor around his recently redecorated office, a corner spot overlooking Radio City Music Hall and 6th Avenue, atop 30 Rock. Here's a wooden desk and two worn rugs from home, here's a stained-glass window of Buddy Holly's face and, if you look up, there's an oversized plastic pickle nestled behind two glass ceiling panels. The "Saturday Night Live" vet, who has hosted "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" for a little more than two years, is having the time of his life: He hosted last year's Emmy Awards, he's got a Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor named after his show (Late Night Snack) and a new book out based on a routine, "Thank You Notes." But as Randee Dawn discovered for The Envelope, he may be missing a few things.
You seem to be having a second childhood: ice cream, books, a giant pickle ...
I couldn't be happier. It's fun to see how we can put our take on so much stuff. That said, I miss those days on "SNL" when I would watch it and say, "I know I can do a take on that person!"
Still, here the fun thing about having comedians and funny writers around is that you can just be as silly as you want to. I can go out of my office right now and go, "Hey, did you drive a spaceship to work?" And immediately they'll say, "Yeah, but it's out of gas."
Has it been hard to segue into being a straight interviewer?
Yeah, I didn't know what I was doing. There's no way to do it until you practice. It's a skill you have to figure out. It's filling time and talking and being honest and open. Stephen Colbert gave me advice that he got from Conan [O'Brien] and Conan got from [Johnny] Carson: On the show you'll do everything you've ever learned in your past.
Has that been true?
I've danced, I've sang, I've done impressions, I've played guitar, I've dressed like a woman -- I've done all I can to make this show a hit. I'm showing up places, doing stand-up on weekends -- I'm like, "Let's go, let's go!"
What was hosting the Emmys like for you?
A lot of work.
More work than putting a show on every night?
A little bit. I wasn't able to even have half of my writers out there -- I was bummed about that.
I've hosted shows in the past, and it's one of those kinds of jobs where you don't really win. People usually get criticized, even the best comedians. What I wanted to do was show what our show was about. I wanted to celebrate all of television -- I'm a giant fan of TV. By the end of the night, 90% of that room is in a bad mood, so I wanted to keep it fun, even if you didn't just win.
What's been your most memorable musical experience on the show?
Bruce Springsteen. He liked the job we did with "Born to Run" on the Emmys, so he had to promote this new box set, and he chose our show above all the other shows. So, we have this great writer who said, "You should do Neil Young singing 'Whip My Hair.' " We recorded it on our phones and sent it to [Bruce's] manager, Jon Landau, and he immediately got back, saying, "Bruce loves it. Do you want him to dress like 1970s Bruce?" That came from him!
So Bruce was so excited, he brought his sunglasses from the "Born to Run" tour. He came in, and we taped a beard on him, gave him a floppy hat and the sunglasses. And I said, "Want to try this curly hair wig?" And he didn't want to. So everyone left the makeup room, and we're laughing and I said, "Just try the wig on." So there I am, putting a wig on Bruce Springsteen, and he has the hat and the beard -- and he's like, "Whoa!" That was killer, getting him in those curls. We walked across the hall to his manager, and [Landau] teared up: "You look like when I first started working with you, 30 years ago!" It was just a cool moment. Home run, man.
Are talk shows on their way out? How would you change yours?
Talk shows will be around forever. There will be more of them. Like sports shows -- you have to watch them. You want to know what's happening right now. Did they do something crazy? I do think shows will be more interactive. I wish we were live. I would play with people all day long. Maybe we'll do a week of live shows at 12:30 a.m.
Showbiz is not always a nice business. Are you too nice to have this job?
Some people tell me that. I just think it's the way I am. I'm happy, I'm in a good mood, and there's no reason to feel otherwise. Sure, I get mad at some little things, but then I write "Thank You Notes."