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Jimmy Fallon

Comedian Jimmy Fallon has enjoyed a long and successful career in television, rising from small-time standup comedy to joining the cast of Saturday Night Live and eventually hosting one of America's most successful talk shows. The key to Fallon's success is often attributed to his boyish likability; his humor is rarely mean, he often playfully celebrates his subjects rather than needling them, and his celebrity impressions boast an accuracy that plays more like tribute than satire. While TV has been the source of his greatest success, he's also pursued a recording career on the side. 2002's The Bathroom Wall was divided between standup comedy and novelty songs, while 2012's Blow Your Pants Off collected music-oriented bits from his show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. An avowed fan of Christmas songs, Fallon has released a handful of holiday collaborations, including 2021's COVID-19-themed novelty single "It Was A (Masked Christmas)," featuring Megan Thee Stallion and Ariana Grande, 2022's "Almost Too Early for Christmas" with Dolly Parton, and 2023's "Wrap Me Up" with Meghan Trainor. Jimmy Fallon was born in New York City on September 19, 1974. He had a sheltered upbringing; he and his sister had to ride their bicycles in their backyard as their parents didn't want them riding in the streets. He attended Catholic School and briefly considered becoming a priest, an ambition that fell by the wayside once he discovered comedy. Young Jimmy was a regular listener of Dr. Demento's syndicated radio show devoted to novelty songs, and he was a major fan of Saturday Night Live, even though he had to watch videotaped versions edited by his parents to remove material they found inappropriate. At 13, he learned to play guitar and performed in talent shows and school theater productions. While attending Albany, New York's The College of St. Rose, he started doing stand-up comedy on weekends, and dropped out a semester before he would have graduated to move to Los Angeles and launch a professional career in show biz. After a few years of bit parts on TV and doing sets at comedy clubs, he and his agent lobbied hard for him to join the cast of Saturday Night Live, which was his ultimate career ambition. Though his first audition for the show was unsuccessful, the second did the trick, and he made his debut on SNL as a featured player in September 1998. Fallon became an audience favorite with his celebrity impressions and occasional musical sketches. He was promoted to a full cast member in the 1999-2000 season and worked for SNL for six seasons before he left the show in hopes of launching a film career. (His first movie role was in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous, where he played a prospective manager for the group Stillwater.) During this period, Fallon released his first album, 2002's The Bathroom Wall, which was nominated for a Grammy Award. After striking out on his own, Fallon appeared in leading roles in two major motion pictures, 2004's Taxi and 2005's Fever Pitch. Neither did especially well at the box office, and after penning an unproduced screenplay, Fallon's career was in limbo when SNL producer Lorne Michaels approached him about hosting a talk show, taking over NBC's late-night spot that was soon to open up with the departure of Conan O'Brien. In March 2008, the network announced that Fallon had been signed as O'Brien's replacement, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon debuted in March 2009. Music became a regular part of Fallon's show; he would impersonate famous musicians performing unlikely material (Neil Young covering the theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire and Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair," Jim Morrison performing the opening music from Reading Rainbow), humorous original songs ("Cougar Huntin'" with country stars Big & Rich, and "Balls in Your Mouth" with guest vocals from Eddie Vedder), and giving plenty of airtime to the hip-hop instrumental collective the Roots, who were the show's house band. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon became a ratings success, and in 2012, he released his second album, Blow Your Pants Off, which collected favorite musical performances from the show; it won Fallon his first Grammy award. The popularity of his show put him first in line to take over The Tonight Show when Jay Leno finally bowed out of the long-running chat show, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon premiered in February 2014. The program maintained the upbeat tone of Late Night and regularly outperformed his competition in the ratings. The show kept Fallon busy, but he still found time to occasionally release single tracks. Fallon and of the Black Eyed Peas impersonated grossed-out teenage girls on the 2014 tune "Ew!"; Fallon and the Roots recorded an a cappella version of Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" for the 2017 album Holidays Rule, Vol. 2, with Sir Paul making a vocal cameo. In 2021, he also joined forces with Megan Thee Stallion and Ariana Grande for a seasonal number poking fun at the COVID-19 pandemic, "It Was A … (Masked Christmas)." More holiday collaborations followed, including the 2022 Dolly Parton duet "Almost Too Early for Christmas" and "Wrap Me Up" with Meghan Trainor, the latter of which hit the Top 40.
© Mark Deming /TiVo


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