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Topic: spin magazine Return to archive
03-09-02 10:18 PM

A group of grade-school kids are standing around the viewing rails of Manhattan's Rockefeller Center ice rink, cheering and clapping every time a skater falls down. And that's pretty often: Many of the tourists swarming the Christmas attraction can barely stand up, pushing themselves along the wall with looks of pure terror frozen on their faces. "That's how I skate," Jimmy Fallon says, pointing at a woman cautiously plodding by. "My whole body is completely stiff and doesn't move, except my feet. Those guys are going to heckle me!" A pretty little blonde girl in a yellow ski jacket starts flailing about, grabbing passing strangers to keep her balance. "She's going down!" Fallon shouts from the sidelines, pointing a finger at her and laughing maniacally. "Hey look, she wiped out! Can't she skate? Ha ha ha!"

People start staring. "That's not very nice," a woman clucks to her daughter. Fallon is doing such a dead-on imitation of the skater-haters that no one can decide whether he's kidding or not. The sweet-faced guy in jeans and sneakers just doesn't look like the kind of person who'd yell, "Wouldn't it be funny if that old lady fell? That would be so awesome!" But by the time he's dissing the figure eights of a new-age man hogging the center of the rink ("It's Deepak Chopra at the Ice Capades!") everyone around him is laughing, in on the joke.

Finally, someone recognizes him.

"Hey, Jimmy Fallon!" a burly man in a Yankees cap says. "That was some funny shit with Mick Jagger last week!" He's referring to the December Saturday Night Live skit in which Jagger primps in a dressing room, deciding which trademark dance moves to bust during his live performance. When the Rolling Stone stares into the mirror, he doesn't see a wrinkly 58-year-old in a purple satin shirt -- he sees 27-year-old Fallon, who's sporting a poofy rooster 'do and a hyperbolic Cockney accent. "You're looking great!" Jagger says to his reflection. "No," Fallon replies, "we're looking great."

Fallon's uncanny ability to imitate anyone from Pee Wee Herman to Robert De Niro earned him a spot on SNL when he was only 23. The rock obsessive quickly carved out a niche as the Young Cool Guy with his crew of characters: the dreadlocked college stoner Jarrett, the horny Boston hesher Sully, and the painfully smug computer geek Nick Burns. He won over music fans with his silly acoustic-guitar parodies of modern rock hits (by Alanis Morissette, Eminem, Coldplay, Creed, etc.), and charmed the ladies with his cutie-pie, self-deprecating demeanor ("Hilarious and Hot," gushed a recent YM Stars cover). Named SNL's high-profile "Weekend Update" coanchor in 2000, he also appeared in the film Almost Famous as a nerdy band manager and hosted the MTV 2001 Movie Awards with Kirsten Dunst. Now he's finishing his first album, The Bathroom Wall, a mix of music and comedy scheduled for an April release. Not bad for someone who planned to be a computer programmer until his college courses got too hard. "I have the greatest, most fun job ever," Fallon says with typical excitement.

"Sometimes I still can't believe it."

Spin: So while we were walking around today, about ten people stopped to say how much they liked your Mick Jagger skit.

Jimmy Fallon: That's my favorite thing I've ever done on the show. I'm just a gigantic Stones fan -- gigantic. I pitched Mick a zillion skit ideas, and he didn't like any of them. Finally I suggested the mirror thing, and he's like, "Oh, great!" So I went over to his hotel to rehearse, and he's, like, totally alone in this eight-room suite drinking tea. If you had told me when I was in high school that one day I'd be hanging out in a hotel with Mick Jagger doing the rooster dance, I would have thought you were crazy.

How long did it take to get his moves down? I was already imitating him a long time ago. In college, I'd be heading into a bar and I'd think, "All right, be cool -- how would Mick Jagger walk into this bar?" And then I'd walk in like this [struts across the room jutting his chin out], really confident, and it got to a point where that just became the way I walked. Sometimes I'd have my friends play "Sympathy for the Devil" on the jukebox and then I'd make my entrance.

What other rock stars were you obsessed with growing up?
I used to stand in front of the TV memorizing the moves to [Michael Jackson's] "Beat It." I'd do entire videos in my bedroom, where I'd look in the mirror and lip-synch. It was so jackass! Then I loved the Beastie Boys, and whatever they did, I would do. I had the sneakers, the gas station attendant jacket, every poster, every concert T-shirt. I even got my hair cut like them.

What's the most embarrassing record you've ever owned?
Do you remember that ['80s metal] group Autograph? "Turn Up the Radio"? Never gonna turn that one up again. I became a total headbanger. I was into Twisted Sister really bad. That's as hard as I got, but my friends were into Dio and W.A.S.P.

Did you have big metalhead hair?
It never got long. It was never that cool. I always had bad hair. I still have terrible hair. I hate it.

So you never used hairspray?
Oh no, I totally used hairspray in high school! I bought Consort for Men because I thought that was the only hairspray that men could use -- you know, like, "Hey, I don't want any female hairspray!" It probably killed the ozone layer with every squirt. I had this one friend with cool hair that was feathered on the sides, and I tried to imitate it. But I'd hit it with so much hairspray that it was as hard as a rock. I mean, you could put me in the shower and nothing would happen to it.

What was growing up in Saugerties [in upstate New York] like?
My parents were kind of overprotective people. Me and my sister had to play in the backyard all the time. They bought us bicycles for Christmas, but they wouldn't let us ride in the street -- we had to ride in the backyard. Another Christmas my dad got me a basketball hoop, and put it up in the middle of the lawn. You can't dribble on grass! Then they built a swing set on the lawn, and I swear to God, my grandfather was afraid I'd fall off and crack my head open, so he made me wear a football helmet. People would walk by on the street, and think, "Those weird little Fallon kids, why don't they leave their lawn? They're the Lawn Kids!" [Laughs] The weirdest thing was that there was a cemetery right behind our fence, so I'd be staring at tombstones whenever I played. I actually got in my first fistfight there.

What was the fight over?
I think I gave a flower to some girl and I didn't know she was dating this guy. He was like, "Yo, I heard you gave my girl a flower!" We had to fight, but we couldn't decide when. Like, "How about Wednesday? Nah, I gotta work Wednesday." It took so long to schedule it that I had time to take a couple of karate lessons. Finally, the only time we could agree on was a few weeks later, at six in the morning on a Sunday. It was so early that only three kids from the neighborhood came by. But my parents were watching from the house through binoculars, and my mom was crying. You gotta fight, though. In college I got into a lot of bar fights.

Why, because you came strutting in like you were Mick Jagger?
[Laughs] Yeah, like, "Who the hell do you think you are, Fallon? Who is this idiot?" [He pretends someone smacks him in the head]

Are you a dirty fighter or a clean fighter?
Definitely a clean fighter. I'm like one of those guys who won't go down -- I'll just keep getting up until someone says, "All right, this is stupid -- your eyeball's hanging out." Back then I'd just start a fight for no reason, like someone would play [Billy Joel's] "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" twice on the jukebox. I love the jukebox, it's my favorite thing, and I'd be like, "I just heard this song! There's a thousand songs on there and you played it twice! You're not in your apartment, we're in a bar!" There are rules in pool, there are rules in darts, there should be rules for the jukebox.

Like what?
You can't play the same song over and over, you can't play a whole album, and you can't play three songs by the same band in a row, even if it's [Guns N' Roses'] "Sweet Child o' Mine," "Mr. Brownstone," and "It's So Easy." You just can't!

Do you still get into fights?
Definitely not fistfights; that's not cool anymore. But recently I was in this bar, and they're playing some song. And then 20 minutes later there it is again. I go, "Can we skip this song? I've heard this three times in an hour." And the bartender says, "I can't skip it if someone here played it." So I go, "Does anyone here mind if I skip it?" and somebody says, "Yeah I mind. It's my favorite song." The bartender's like, "What can I do?" So I go, "You know what? This bar is full of idiots. This is an idiot bar, and I'm gonna tell all my friends not to come here." Then I walked out.

So many SNL cast members have self-destructed. Do you have much of a dark side?
Nah, I don't think so. If I do, it's buried under so much other stuff I can't dig it up. A doctor would have to tell you that.

After a few turns around the ice rink (he doesn't fall or get heckled), Fallon heads over to Rockefeller Plaza for SNL's Thursday-afternoon rehearsal. In between calls to the set, Fallon eagerly provides a tour of Studio 8H, including a walk through the famed "#30" door from which the host emerges every week. He practically jogs through SNL's labyrinthine halls, stopping to joke around with seemingly every single person on the show's staff, including a sick Chris Kattan, who's fretting that he has to be in Times Square at 7 a.m. tomorrow so "Mango" can run around naked. Next Fallon zips into the makeup room, where he and Adrian Young of musical guests No Doubt compare zits, both opting for swipes of orangey foundation. Then he's off to rehearse a skit called "Family Vacation," in which he plays a neurotic little boy.

When he catches a break in his dressing room an hour later, he pulls out a boombox and plays me his hardcore-punk holiday song "Snowball," flicking the lights on and off and playing expert air guitar for dramatic effect. "What an idiot!" he says, laughing. Next up are cuts from his album-in-progress, including "Road Rage," which he says "has a Nirvana/Weezer type of vibe" ("If honking my horn don't get your attention / I'll stick my fist up your ass like my name was Jim Henson"). "That's my favorite line ever!" Fallon says. "In the video I should dress in a beard and turtleneck, with my hand up Kermit's ass." Like a lot of Fallon's humor, his music is charmingly goofball and just a little twisted. It's easy to see why bands like Blink-182 actually like to be spoofed by him.

When did you first become interested in comedy?
Grade school. I was obsessed with Saturday Night Live, and I used to impersonate everybody on the show. I used to pray that I'd be on it one day. I'd cut my birthday cake and wish that I was on Saturday Night Live. I'd see a falling star and wish I was on Saturday Night Live. I don't know how, but one of those worked. When I got on the show at 23, I thought, "Wow, I should be a motivational speaker! It really can happen!"

How's the rest of your album coming along?
Good -- it's so jackass! The first half is going to be about five songs that I'm playing with this band of my friends, and the second half is going to be comedy. I don't expect it to explode or anything, but I don't want it to be in the discount rack. If you see my CD in the discount rack, please, please buy it, and I'll pay you for it. It would break my heart to know it's just sitting there, like, "Ohhhh, there's not even one song they'd keep it for. They'd rather get two bucks off The Wall: Live in Berlin!" That's my nightmare.

What about getting heckled? Some guy kept taunting you when you opened for Tenacious D in New York City this past fall. When you finally yelled, "Shut the fuck up!" the entire audience started cheering for you.
[Laughs] You know, you gotta earn your money. But that's half of this comedy thing -- no guarantees. So you end up with some guy there who's like, "I want to see Tenacious D; I don't wanna see this fucking guy from SNL. I haven't watched it since the '80s. He's not Eddie Murphy!"

What was it like to share the Madison Square Garden stage with legends like Paul McCartney, David Bowie, and Elton John [at the Concert for New York City]?
After my spot, I was just hanging out backstage, and they were like, "We're gathering everybody to go onstage for the all-star jam at the end." I was so psyched. But then I thought, "You know, maybe it's an insult to have a comedian out there." So I was just standing there, and Pete Townshend comes up and goes [slips into British accent], "Go on, get out there!" and grabs me and pushes me out. I'm like, "Oh my God, I'm standing next to Pete Townshend at the Garden!" Then they were playing that [Paul McCartney] "Freedom" song and I'm like, "Shit, I don't know it, and everyone else does!" So I look at Billy Crystal, and I whisper, "What is this song?" And he goes, "Just keep saying 'Freedom'!"

This article is going to appear in the same issue as our Readers Poll. You got some votes.
For what? Sex god.
[Yelps] Oh no! Really, I don't see it. I don't really get it, man. Don't worry, you didn't win.
Good! I can't get involved in that.

But your female fans have said some pretty funny things on all the websites devoted to you. A girl said that she liked you because your "armpits aren't super-hairy and gross."
[Laughs] That's usually my pickup line. I usually just go to bars and go [pretends to take shirt off and lifts arms over head], "Hey, what's going on? How's it going? I don't have gross armpit hair!"

She also said, "Same goes for his chest."
You know, I really don't have that much chest hair. It's pretty embarrassing.

Were you popular with girls in school?
I wanted to be a priest at one point. I was pretty religious. I was an altar boy, and I was good at it. Then I started meeting girls, and I'm like, "You know, maybe I shouldn't be a priest."

The New York tabloids are always linking you to celebrities -- Winona Ryder, Gina Gershon, lots of different models.
People will come up to me, slap me five, and go [in a hip-hop voice], "Yo dude, I heard you're dating a model, man. That's great!" And I'm not going to squash that rumor, so I'll be like, "Yeah, it's fantastic!" [Mumbles] I wish I knew who it was. A lot of times items are based on total rumors, like the one with Gina Gershon. I was at a table with 15 people, she happened to be one of them, and this paper prints, "Jimmy Fallon and Gina Gershon were seen eating at blah-blah-blah." Really? They forgot to include the other 14 people. Then guys were like, "Hey buddy, Gina Gershon, man, she's gorgeous! Didya see that movie where she was a lesbian? That's pretty hot stuff!"

Who are some of your favorite actors?
John Cusack, James Cagney, Joan Cusack, Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder, Diane Keaton. And the legends -- De Niro, Pacino, Jack Nicholson. I actually went to the World Series with Jack Nicholson. God, it was the coolest thing ever. We're at the game and he turns to me and says, "I got Crackerjacks. I'm eating Crackerjacks." Somehow everything he says sounds like a cool line from a movie. So I get a box, and he asks me, "Did you get the prize yet?" I got a sticker with a snake on it and a riddle. So Jack says [cue Nicholson impersonation], "You know, when I was a kid, we used to get metal things, like a magnifying glass or a tin whistle. Now all you get is a picture of a fucking snake."

You've become much more recognizable after taking over "Weekend Update."
I guess so. I don't really like doing it. I get kind of shy sometimes, like, "Ahhh, I don't wanna be on TV that much." I don't pay much attention to the news and I'm not in this just to get my mug out. I told them I didn't want it at first, but then Tina Fey auditioned, and I said, "The only way I'll do it is if I do it with somebody else." And Tina is brilliant. She's so cool and intelligent and cute.

A magazine once described you as "a little dazed, a little pettable." What did you think of that?
"Pettable"? I don't mind that.

Are there any misconceptions people have about you?
I don't think there are any. I'm really not that big yet. It's all kind of just happening to me now. I guess if I was a little kid, I'd be a good person to look up to. Not to idolize myself or anything like that, but I'm a big fan of me.
03-10-02 10:50 AM

That was very for posting it.

Did you cut and paste/scan the article or type it all out? lol
03-11-02 10:56 AM
moy thanks zanck, i just did a copy&paste from the spin website (, i saw the magazine first and then went to the website to read it

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