Jimmy Fallon rose to prominence as a castmate on the hit sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. Joining the cast was his lifelong dream, but he’s since found a new calling in the world of late-night television hosting. You may be surprised to hear that the comedian initially planned on doing something very different with his life. Furthermore, he was at first rejected by SNL, which was a significant blow to the college dropout. From the books he’s published to the Grammy he’s won, read on for more surprising and revealing Jimmy Fallon facts.
He Didn’t Make It On SNL At First
Many successful people initially faced rejection, and the same is true for Jimmy Fallon. At his first Saturday Night Live audition, he didn’t make the cut. Jimmy was so committed to joining the show that when he did land a role on another show, he insisted on having a clause in the contract allowing him to back out if he got onto SNL.
Sure enough, Jimmy nailed his second audition. His Adam Sandler impression was so hilarious that he even made tight-lipped producer Lorne Michaels laugh. His ability to make up outlandish songs also won the producer over, so he hired Jimmy.
He’s Good Friends With Drew Barrymore
You may recall the endearing 2005 film Fever Pitch, starring Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. The pair had on-screen chemistry for a reason, as they are great friends in real life. In fact, Jimmy’s wife co-owns Drew’s production company, Flower Films.
Drew Barrymore was also one of the few guests invited when Jimmy and his wife, Nancy, tied the knot back in 2007. Considering that both swim in high-profile circles, they probably had to be very selective in order to keep the guest list small.
His Wife Is A Producer
Jimmy Fallon isn’t the only Hollywood player in his household. His wife, Nancy Juvonen, is a film producer. After graduating from USC, Nancy did various odd jobs before becoming an assistant to musician Clarence Clemons.
Nancy met Drew Barrymore in 1993 and the friends founded Flower Films together. Though she’s produced dozens of films, her only acting credit is for the film Donnie Darko. Nancy lets Jimmy stand in the limelight while she controls the operations from behind the camera.
He Was A College Dropout Before Getting His B.A. In 2009
Jimmy graduated from high school in 1992 and promptly pursued his higher education at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. He initially majored in Computer Science but shifted to studying communication in his senior year.
Just a semester shy of graduating, Jimmy dropped out of school to pursue his dream of being a comedian. Fourteen years later, he achieved his Bachelor of Arts in Communication. The university’s officials applied his television experience toward his credits, and Jimmy walked with the class of 2009.
He Brought Joan Rivers Back To The Tonight Show
Jimmy Fallon has spoken with a wide range of guests since he entered the world of late-night hosting. Perhaps one of the most memorable was his time with Joan Rivers, who hadn’t been on The Tonight Show for almost 30 years prior.
As it turns out, Joan used to be a regular on The Tonight Show. Everything changed when she had a falling-out with former host Johnny Carson. When Joan Rivers came on to speak with Jimmy, she hadn’t set foot on the show since 1986!
Conan O’Brien Gave Jimmy A Ritualistic Pickle
We can only imagine what a fun atmosphere comedy shows must have. A perfect example is the giant plastic pickle that has become a Late Night show hallmark. When Jimmy Fallon became the official Late Night host, Conan O’Brien greeted him with the enormous pickle.
He explained that David Letterman had given him the odd gift, and so now he was passing along the torch. When Jimmy left to become the host of The Tonight Show, he passed on the pickle to the next host, Seth Meyers.
He Considered Being A Priest
Jimmy was brought up in was he’s described as an “idyllic” Roman Catholic household. He attended St. Mary of the Snow Catholic school and had such a positive experience as an altar boy that he considered becoming a priest.
The actor later told NPR, “I just, I loved the church. I loved the idea of it. I loved the smell of the incense. I loved the feeling you get when you left church. I loved like how this priest can make people feel this good. I just thought it was – I loved the whole idea of it.”
He Returned To Standup To “Train” For Late Night
Jimmy’s career as a late-night host wasn’t something he planned. Rather, it was SNL producer Lorne Michaels who suggested that Jimmy become the face of Late Night. NBC approached the actor in 2008 after Lorne threatened to leave the show if Jimmy wasn’t the host.
Though the producer knew Jimmy could do it, he tasked the comedian with returning to stand up for eight months to prepare for the job. Jimmy tested out his 50-minute routine on college campuses and comedy clubs before debuting as a late-night host in 2009.
Jimmy’s Famous Lip Sync Battle Became Its Own Show
One of the segments that Jimmy Fallon has become known for is the Lip Sync Battle on The Tonight Show. Jimmy’s celebrity guests would have to battle it out with the host, competing to see who could give the best lip-syncing performance.
The hilarious segment was such a hit that it was transformed into a show on Paramount Network, formerly known as Spike. Lip Sync Battle premiered in 2015 with LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen as the presenters. The first episode was the highest-rated premiere in the network’s history!
The People’s Choice Deemed Him Their Favorite Late-Night Host
From the moment Jimmy Fallon became a late-night host, audiences and critics alike praised the funnyman. He won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media for Late Night in 2009 and 2010.
In 2011, he won his first People’s Choice Award for Favorite Online Sensation. From 2012-2017, Jimmy won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Late Night Talk Host. In 2018 and 2019, he won the People’s Choice Award for The Night Time Talk Show of the Year!
Jimmy’s Elementary School Foresaw His Hosting Career
Though Jimmy considered life as a priest at a young age, his fellow elementary school peers foresaw his hosting career. His budding interest in comedy became apparent as he began listening to The Dr. Demento radio show.
Jimmy’s classmates elected him “Most Likely To Take Over For David Letterman.” He fatefully did so in 2009 when he became the host of Late Night, which originated with David Letterman as host. In high school, Jimmy also won a comedian contest for his Pee-wee Herman impersonation.
People Placed Him In Their “50 Most Beautiful People”
In 2002, People magazine deemed Jimmy Fallon one of their “50 Most Beautiful People.” The comedian said he was embarrassed at the recognition, but we have to presume that he was at least a little flattered.
Jimmy jokingly told the magazine, “I haven’t had a good hair day in about, well… my entire life. My uncle called me once and said, ‘You’ve got to settle a bet—is that a wig you’re wearing?’” He certainly wears the messy-hair look well.
Ben & Jerry’s Named Two Flavors After Him
Part of what makes Ben & Jerry’s so popular is their many varieties of ice cream. As it turns out, two flavors are named after none other than Jimmy Fallon! The first came out while he was the host of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
The “Late Night Snack” features vanilla bean, caramel, fudge, and potato chip clusters. The second flavor came when Jimmy Fallon began hosting The Tonight Show. “The Tonight Dough” has chocolate and caramel ice cream with chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie doughs.
He’s Hosted Several Award Shows
Long before Jimmy Fallon became a noteworthy late-night host, he was a go-to host for award shows. His combined musical talent and improvisational skills made him suitable for a variety of events, including the MTV Music Video Awards and the Emmys.
Part of what makes him such an outstanding host is his charm. To keep viewers entertained in between award announcements, Jimmy often throws out jokes, performs sketches with his co-host, or even does his own musical numbers.
He’s A Book Author
Considering that Jimmy is so overwhelmingly known for his comedy, it may come as a surprise to even his most devout fans that the comedian is also a book author. In 1999, he published I Hate This Place: The Pessimist’s Guide to Life, which was co-written by his sister, Gloria.
Since, he’s published a handful of children’s stories, including Snowball Fight, Everything Is Mama, and Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada. In 2011, he published Thank You Notes, which became a New York Times Bestseller.
The Tonight Show Moved Back To NY When Jimmy Started
Though Jimmy Fallon is a native of New York, he spent his fair share of time in Los Angeles for the sake of his career. The year that Jimmy became the host of The Tonight Show, the production returned to New York for the first time since 1972!
Jimmy must have felt relieved to be back in his comfort zone, especially considering that the show had been filmed in Los Angeles for the past 40 years! The big move wasn’t prompted by Jimmy, but by a tax cut.
He’s Famously Bad At Keeping A Straight Face
One thing that Jimmy has become known for is his inability to keep a straight face. Since Saturday Night Live is filmed in front of a live audience, there’s no way to hide the actors’ slips and chuckles. When one of them breaks character, everyone knows it.
With Jimmy Fallon, his side-grins became so apparent that it practically became his trademark. The cast started referring to such moments as “Jimmy Falloning.” It all adds to the actor’s infectious charm.
He Stayed On SNL For “Weekend Update”
After all of Jimmy’s commitment to getting onto Saturday Night Live, you would think he’d want to remain on the show as long as possible. After all, this was the person who stayed in on the weekend as a teenager just to watch the show.
Nevertheless, Jimmy thought he was ready to part from the series in 2001. That all changed when he was offered a spot on the “Weekend Update” segment alongside Tina Fey. The experience as an anchor came in handy years later when he made a name as a late-night host.
Before SNL, He Was In A Legendary Improv Group
Part of what prepared Jimmy for a spot on SNL was his participation in the legendary improv group The Groundlings. His fellow castmates Will Ferrell, Phil Hartman, and Jon Lovitz had all been members of the comedy troupe previously.
His preparation really began in childhood when Jimmy would have his parents tape SNL for him so he could watch and practice impersonations. His mother would have Jimmy perform for guests, and he would even put together skits with his sister.
His Comedy Album Won A Grammy
The Saturday Night Live producers put Jimmy’s musical talent to good use on the show. He’s created hilarious musical performances for both SNL and various award shows. The positive response from fans enabled Jimmy to put out multiple singles, including “Idiot Boyfriend” and “Car Wash For Peace.”
He released his first comedy album, The Bathroom Wall, in 2002. A decade later, he released his second hilarious collection of songs, titled Blow Your Pants Off. The latter scored Jimmy a Grammy for Best Comedy Album!