Editor's Note: With full recognition of the general implications of a pandemic that has already claimed thousands of lives, destroyed global economies and closed international borders, Deadline & # 39; s Dealing with the COVID-19 Crisis The series is a forum for those in the entertainment space who are dealing with the myriad consequences of seeing a great industry screech stop. Hope is an exchange of ideas and experiences, and suggestions on how companies and individuals can overcome a crisis that does not seem to diminish in the short term.. If you have a story, email [email protected] News Info.com.
If you are watching the Tonight's Show With Jimmy Fallon, after the pandemic, the heartwarming sound of The Roots has been replaced by the racket provided by Franny and Winnie Fallon, the pint-sized blonde beauties who have become Fallon's main foil on an impromptu talk show that still features guests like Jennifer Garner and Lin-Manuel Miranda, but is thriving on YouTube and NBC, driven by Fallon's charm, she can make the best of a self-quarantined existence. The camera work comes from wife Nancy Juvonen, long a partner in Drew Barrymore's Flower Films, and a photo from the lives of these adorable kids who come rushing down a built-in slide (we're all jealous). The result is the best effort at the Fallon level to provide humor at a time when we desperately need to laugh, raising huge sums for worthwhile causes in the process. Here, improv vet Fallon explains how he handled this pivot and makes it all work.
Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel bring him home in Corona quarantine editions
DEADLINE: This is a scary moment where laughter is exceptionally important. That first episode of Saturday Night Live after September 11, which opened with Rudy Giuliani and the first responders of the World Trade Center, felt like a cultural moment of the time, a healing mechanism. What were the biggest challenges there, discovering the rules of what to do?
Jimmy Fallon: It was such a fine line. Obviously, you should take the situation seriously. As a comedian on a comedy show, it's about understanding that people have feelings and anxieties, fears, and many unknown things. Everything that comes into play. I also had to inform everyone that we were feeling all of that, ourselves, and we wanted to try to give the situation a little balance. So you can even get a little normal and start the small steps to get your normal brain and thoughts back.
I remember that phrase from the show you're talking about. Lorne was talking to then Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Lorne says, "Can we be funny?" And Rudy says, "Why start now?" That was Lorne's line, he wrote that. I remember when he thought about it when we were trying to figure out what to do on the show, and he said, "Oh, that's a good phrase." He wrote it and it was the one we use. It was the line that made us all laugh, almost to tears. Because we had been repressed, accumulated with so many feelings, and we just wanted a dump valve. And it was like, "oh yeah, we can be funny and start moving on with our lives and getting back to normal." That is very complicated, but I remember that moment so vividly.
I was in Saturday night live at the time, and I really didn't know what to do. I was lucky to have comedian friends and comedians. But I looked at the nightly hosts to see what they were talking about and how they reacted to everything. I saw Conan O & # 39; Brien, Jay Leno and David Letterman who really caught me. Remember where you said, I am paraphrasing, "There is only one requirement for any of us, and that is to be brave." Because courage defines all other human behaviors. "And then he said," I think pretending to be brave is as good as the real thing. "I never forgot that line.
DEADLINE: How did that influence what you are doing right now, organizing a show tonight from your house while you quarantine like everyone else?
FALL ON: My wife reminded me of that phrase, pretending to be brave is as good as the real thing, when we quarantined. After we did a show with no studio audience and NBC said wisely, hey, let's close this. Everyone, go home to your families, stay indoors and be safe. I did, and then I said, "I don't know what to do." And Nancy said, "Remember Letterman and that courage speech? You always talk about it. I said, "I have to do something. I can't do anything, I just sit and wait."
I drove to P.C. Richards here, going, I'm just going to get a tripod. Just something to hold my phone. I will convey that, whatever it is. If it's funny or not. Just some content that people can see and talk about. I feel like that's my job. And then we had a meeting with my producers, again taking into account the need to take this issue very seriously. And each person was on board, in the Tonight's show. I said, I'm not forcing you to do this, you can do whatever you want. Everyone agreed and said we want to help. All the writers contributed ideas, we started talking about things.
But it's just me, over here. In fact, I also bought a printer. So I got the tripod and printed it all out myself. Connecting the printer to the computer and trying to format it and send it to our editors so they can publish it on YouTube. By the way, it takes over an hour to post a 20-30 minute video. I am learning all of this, and my wife is my director and the camera operator. She is walking with the selfie stick with an iPhone.
My children have been my castmates and have been helping me, being fun and drawing for me, the graphics department. They just want to play, really. They have no idea they are on television. The answer to all that has been people thanking me. We thought that one way to make it a little different would be to have each show dedicated to a different charity. All of the guests that we've had on the show so far had a charity that they mentioned. We have raised a lot of money with that. YouTube has helped us. They have a button to donate. After the charity conducts legal research to make sure it's legitimate, YouTube places a button next to the video, and if you press it, it goes directly to the site and you can donate.
So we did it online at first, because we didn't know if we could stream it on NBC, and things were happening so fast. That's what it's about, everything moves very fast. First we did it through YouTube, we raised a lot of money and it became a domino effect. Everyone started to get closer, wanting to help. With new ideas. And now we are going to have a corporate sponsor, matching donations.
DEADLINE: A time when NBC made that decision to send everyone home. What have been the challenges in keeping your staff optimistic, paid, committed and hopeful?
FALL ON: To be honest, it was a scary day at the office. It was not the best day to write comedy. What we did was make sure that everyone who wanted to go home left. Right now. If you can work from home, great, but if you can't, we will cover you. I just wanted to make sure everyone was okay. Many people have anxiety, and that and the fear of the unknown is serious. I wanted to calm everyone down. I have a great team in our program and they really helped me, because the office administration is not really my forte. It was scary and there were many things we did not know. What if I meet someone who has it? Lots of questions. We had a crisis manager who came down from corporate NBC and talked to everyone. It was great, and he got stressed out by washing your hands and not touching your face, and showed us the early days of what this thing was. We didn't know how long it would last and we still don't know. So we did that show without an audience, we finished it, and they all left as soon as it ended. We were going to do a show on Friday too, and NBC said, yeah, we're just not going to take that risk. And we said, of course.
We ended up not doing the show that Friday and that's when I ended up thinking, we have to do something. Because the world will need something to look at and laugh at. My audience is always there for me during good times and I want to be there for them during bad times. That's my job. To be there. To be here. The show must go on.
DEADLINE: Why do you think this program has basically become the most popular on YouTube?
FALL ON: (Laughs) I have no idea … I think maybe because people know me. I'm in the position where Leno, Letterman and Conan were when I was in Saturday night live, after September 11. Now I'm in that position where people are looking for what they're comfortable with. They have driven me to their house every week night for almost ten years, so why not take them to my house to change? They're familiar with me. They've seen my entire career. I started at SNL when I was 23. Now I'm 45 years old, so 22 years of being on television. They are familiar with me and I hope it can be a little comfort food for them.
DEADLINE: A surprise has been the comic role that your daughters play, going in and out while you do your work. When you and Nancy told the girls what you were doing, and advised them how you needed them to behave or, at least, keep a low roar, how far did they follow your stage directions?
FALL ON: (Laughs) They haven't heard anything. They are the worst co-stars, ever. I have never worked with less professional people in my life. They just want to play, climb me, sit on my shoulders. And you can't tell them. Nothing is planned. I'll say, "Will you laugh at Dad?" And they'll say, "No." They think it's fun and they have no idea that they're helping people, but today I was walking the dog and two people stopped by and said, "You have the most beautiful girls. Thank you for doing what you're doing. doing is really helping us. " Someone sent me a social media message on Twitter and suggested, "You should change the program to The Winnie, Fanny and Nancy show starring Jimmy Fallon. "Because that is the show.
DEADLINE: I have watched your SNL performances over the years and remember when you hosted a vacation show and sang the song Baby Please Come Home. You paused to mention several classic parodies you were in, like Cowbell and Debbie Downer, and said you were laughing and ruining each one. Is it possible that Franny and Winnie are delivering a karma reward?
FALL ON: (Laughs) Oh please write that I laughed at that. Yes, yes. Now I feel the pain of my co-stars and the writers of Saturday Night Live. It all comes back to me now. (My girls), they are so unprofessional! From whom did they learn this? Who could have taught them this?
DEADLINE: What's the biggest adjustment your monologue is making when reading a page from that printer you just got from PC Richards, without a studio audience there to react?
FALL ON: As an interpreter, you love comments and you really need them. You have to trust your comedy instincts when your soundboard is your wife, who hasn't really been giving up on the latest shows. I suppose there is someone laughing, somewhere. It is definitely uncomfortable. I miss him, hearing the roar of the crowd, even as you walk out the curtain. It has been strange, but in a strange way I am starting to like it. It's getting weirdly more fun for me, I'm not getting a response. I feel a bit like Robert De Niro's character, in King of comedy. I hear a false response from the audience in my brain, when there is none. And I'm just waiting for my mom to yell, "Shut up down there!" And I say, "Maaa, I'm doing the show and you just screwed up the shot!" I am trying to imagine the reaction I would get from some of these jokes.
DEADLINE: You mentioned that line from David Letterman and Lorne Michaels on the 9/11 Show, and the way you describe your impromptu monologues on the impromptu show you're doing from home. There is something in common, that in all of them, humor is self-critical. Is it key to be aware and create humor in a delicate moment like this, not being afraid of being silly?
FALL ON: That's a big part of it. And it has always been one of my feelings about the brand of my company. You can show people that you are not perfect, that you are vulnerable and that you feel the same way we all feel. We all have children climbing on us, who do not laugh at our jokes. When you come from that direction, everyone can feel that he is human, just like us, and we can laugh at him. I always like to be a joke, but I'm always willing to make a good joke if I'm the target of it, or if I thought about it. And I will always play along. It goes back to learning improvisation, where "Yes, and …" is the rule. If there is something funny, I want to get involved. If you can make people laugh, that's the key, especially these days.
DEADLINE: However, messaging is complicated. You were part of that viral video that Gal Gadot put together, the John Lennon Imagine version of the song. The intention was sweet, but the viral mob hit him like he owed them money. Are there any lessons well-meaning celebrities can learn from trying to communicate with their fans right now?
FALL ON: Everything moves very fast and you can think too much. I am trying to do everything I can. Whatever I can do, I'm there for you. This is a time when the headline could change tomorrow or later tonight. Everything moves very fast. For me, it is doing what you can, when you can. Anything that can do that will help … what we are doing, the charity component is useful. If you can link to a charity, or something you care about and say, these people are really hurting right now, and here is a corner that has not been visited and can you help these people?
There are many ways to inspire people who might say: I have a street food pantry from home and I haven't thought about that. Maybe I'll donate money or bring you a can of soup. I think you do what you can and everything will work itself out. Some things will work and some will not. But if it comes from the right place, people will see it.