Jimmy Fallon on his at-home show: ‘My wife is the brains behind this whole thing’

As I keep mentioning, I am so impressed by Jimmy Fallon’s at home show. He has risen to the top of the late night hosts for me during lockdown. Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and other hosts (except Ellen, she’s awful) are rallying and doing a great job too, but I feel like we’re seeing a deeper side of Fallon. He has such a warm personality and you really get the sense that he cares about his guests. He tells the celebrities he misses and loves them, his little girls interrupt him and he’s patient with them, and he films from almost every room in his crazy house. Plus his monologues are still funny. You can tell he’s got a great team behind him, and of course his band, The Roots, are still working from home too. Fallon had Questlove interview The Beastie Boys! Questlove geeked out about it, and it was a joy to watch. The real brains behind Jimmy’s show, and I think the reason his show is resonating with so many people, is his wife, Nancy Juvonen. Nancy recently opened up in a Q&A segment about their years struggling to conceive. She’s been Fallon’s camera operator and she helped him pivot his show right when lockdown started in mid-March. Of course she’s a seasoned producer and writer and it really shows!

Jimmy and his youngest daughter, Frances, 5, are covering People Magazine, and he gives credit for his at-home success to Nancy. They also have daughter Winnie, 6.

On Nancy being the brains behind his show
“My wife is the brains behind this whole thing,” Fallon tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “She’s the production scout, the producer, the lighting person, the editor, the director. I could not do any of this without my wife. She is everything.”

She also inspired her husband to take a leap of faith and try the show from home, after NBC pulled the plug on the show’s production from its N.Y.C. studios March 13, amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

“It was such an odd day,” Fallon recalls. “People in the office were freaked out, and we said, ‘Look, if anyone is scared, go home. Be with your family.’ And we left right after that.”

As he joined Juvonen and the girls at home to wait for official word that the show’s production was canceled, “She goes, ‘You have to do something, right?’ And I go, ‘I do. Right?’ There was no plan but I was like, ‘Well, I have to do something,’ ” says Fallon.

Fallon says his memories of coping with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 as a young comedian on Saturday Night Live inspired him to push forward.

“When 9/11 happened, it was such an odd and scary time, and I turned to the late-night guys, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno and David Letterman,” says the Saugerties, N.Y., native. “Letterman had a really great line that the best thing we could do is be courageous, but sometimes even pretending to be courageous was just as good. I always liked that.”

With that in mind, Fallon called Tonight’s writers and started plotting out a YouTube-only, at-home version of the show. It would have none of the production values — and maybe none of the celebrity guests — of The Tonight Show, but it might just make people laugh. “Sometimes you’ve just got to go with your instincts,” he says. “We all need some funny right now.”

On his daughters interrupting him
“If I’m in a room where they’re close, they’re going to come in. I can’t really blame them,” he says.

“They don’t quite understand what this is,” Fallon says. “They know about coronavirus and that it’s a serious thing and so we have to stay inside. But they’re not aware that I’m broadcasting this to millions of people. So if I have them help me out with a bit, they’re very themselves, which is cool.”

[From People]

I really like how he explained learning from Letterman that pretending to be courageous is just as good as being courageous. Everyone is also talking about how his daughters have interrupted him during interviews, like when Winnie burst into the room when he was interviewing Russell Wilson and Ciara to tell them that she’d lost a tooth. They were clapping for her! Halle Berry also talked to Winnie about her daughter’s hair, and that was adorable. Fallon will sometimes do his monologue with his daughters, but he hasn’t done that for a while.

The Today Show has more quotes from Jimmy’s interview with People. He told them that he’ll bribe Winnie and Frances if they’re not cooperating during a shoot. If they’re being too silly, I can say, ‘Hey, if you help me out with this, I’ll let you play an hour of the ‘Lego Incredibles’ on PlayStation.’ It’s their favorite thing in the world.” When Jimmy and Nancy do their weekly “Ask the Fallons” walk, I wonder where the girls are. Are they in the car on devices (I would do this honestly) or do they leave them at home for few minutes? Someone should ask them that for the next segment! Their last one was hilarious.

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49 Responses to “Jimmy Fallon on his at-home show: ‘My wife is the brains behind this whole thing’”

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  1. Ash says:

    ” (except Ellen, she’s awful)”

    Absolutely not disagreeing with this, but there are some pretty crappy stories floating around about Jimmy Fallon too that have been reappearing on Twitter lately.

    • Erinn says:

      Yeah, not even lately. For like a decade. He’s a complete mess, and from what I’ve read he is a really really shitty husband.

      I used to like Jimmy before he got huge. He’s just…. so unfunny for the most part now. Like he has to appeal to so many of the minivan brigade that it’s just lazy jokes for the most part.

      Even just beyond the supposed personal life stories – he was a pain in the ass to people working with him on SNL. Constantly ‘breaking’ and just stealing the scene purposely by constantly laughing at his own jokes. He drove a lot of people nuts.

      • Annika says:

        Exactly! I’ve always found him bland, insincere & not funny.

      • Anna says:

        @Erinn Agreed. I used to really like the late night show he did before the Tonight Show. And The Roots are not “his” band; they have been around for a long time and in my estimation made a gracious and good business decision to lend their star power to his efforts, for the most part the only saving grace of the TS. And I will never forgive him for normalizing T****. He did that and it made a difference. Sorry but I blame him in part for helping to get this evil elected. His ditzy facade won’t make up for that, ever.

      • Nahema says:

        I never know what to make of those stories. They always feel like such distant rumblings, you know? Like even the stories on twitter seem to be the same regurgitated material time and time again. Do NBC just do an amazing job of hiding who he really is or are these stories just haters spreading gossip? And if it’s all true, how comes his wife puts up with it? She seems to have it all together and had her own money.

      • Kamala says:

        “Exactly! I’ve always found him bland, insincere & not funny’

        That’s all late night talk show hosts. Oh and their ‘edgy’ political satire must have the establishment quaking in their boots.

    • chlo says:

      What are the stories or where can I find them? I don’t really use Twitter.

    • minx says:

      People in NYC used to see him all over the place with women who weren’t his wife. For years. Maybe he’s cleaned up his act.

    • He’s a very active alcoholic. When staying at the hotel I used to help manage, he was known for it. He had a constant handler or assistant with him to keep him sober enough to work. He was never rude to staff though, very nice usually. Just a fall down drunk. The nicest person I ever met was Shaq. He’s hilarious and genuinely loves talking to people. The rudest was Gene Simmons. He’s
      disgusting and a huge jerk. J

      • Kate says:

        Thanks for the cool backstories. I love hearing about those who are genuinely nice people.

  2. Slowsnow says:

    I’m sorry but I am a bit puzzled by this sudden love for Fallon. He is a pretender, has a persona for TV and unless he was a total nut job like Bubblé of course he is going to be nice to his daughter in front of millions of people.
    Also hate in when men say women are the “brains behind” whatever they’re doing because it just shows that they’re waiting for us to be the problem solvers of life. I didn’t know that that’s what a vagina did.

    • Purplehazeforever says:

      I don’t know…I suspect his daughters interrupt him because he genuinely is nice to them all of the time. I doubt it’s an act. I don’t get the criticism of Fallon on here. I just don’t. I don’t find him to be the funniest guy & unless I’m missing some major scandal, I don’t get it

    • Jules says:

      He (or, ahem, his wife) is really overdoing it with- oh no, the kids interrupted my show again, suprise! It’s all just a way celebrities use their kids to market their own self-interest. Gross.

    • LadyPrincessJr. says:

      @slowsnow @Jules @ Erinn

      Check out Jarvis Johnson’s channel, and the video, “Celebrities Are Boring Now”. He’s got a good take on the late shows in quarantine, and talks about Fallon specifically.

      Been following Philip DeFranco a lot, too. His speed-talking puts some people off, but he has a sober, down-to-earth perspective on all of this that I appreciate. And he slows it down for his interviews… and has a cute kiddo, that he sometimes puts in his videos, but knows not to lean on that.

  3. Bishg says:

    Well, the white-washing of Jimmy Fallon has begun… I’m glad that his show has become more enjoyable during the lockdown (at least he’s actively making an effort, unlike Ellen) but we gossip-detectives do not forget his numerous faux-pas through the years…

    • minx says:

      As I said upthread, maybe the lockdown has helped him clean up his act and realize how fortunate he is. One can hope.

  4. Erinn says:

    Has he messed with his face, or is that cover photo just the result of heavy handed photoshop?

    I don’t know. I don’t feel like we need to clap for these dudes doing the bare minimum. Congrats – you’re working from home guys! So proud of you – this is completely ground breaking! I mean – millions of people are also working from home, but yay ground breaking! Thanks Jimmy!

    There’s a big attempt at reinventing a lot of these guys, I’m noticing. You have Fallon trying SO hard to be the family man (after years of stories about his drunken co-ed shenanigans while his wife was struggling to conceive). You have Jim from the Office doing his ‘Good News’ thing after endless attempts of making him into a leading action man like Tom Cruise.

    I don’t know what to think. I do think there’s a correlation between how bored we all are in quarantine and how well these kinds of shows are doing. We’re desperate for something new to watch, and since big productions are all basically shut down, I think there are a lot of people succeeding in this avenue who normally wouldn’t.

    • Dutch says:

      I’m sure there’s some photoshop there. But I’m guessing he’s leading a healthier lifestyle now that his (alleged) regular routine of alcoholic benders has been interrupted by the quarantine. He doesn’t look perpetually hung over these days.

    • LadyPrincessJr. says:

      I mentioned Jarvis Johnson’s “Celebrities Are Boring Now” video above, because it really said everything I was feeling about this subject.

  5. Jenn says:

    I’ve missed probably two episodes of Late Night with Seth Meyers since quarantine began (I’m on day 56 at home, here!) and I just love it. For the first several episodes he was trying different locations in his house; now he’s trapped in his tiny attic with a hive of wasps. The drama!! (I don’t know if Seth knows this, but Terminix is considered an essential business!) His and Colbert’s shows are charming as can be, although there’s a real edge in Colbert’s voice lately. John Oliver’s production values have especially impressed me, considering he’s filming from a small home office just like the others. Sam Bee has been filming from her backyard; she apparently lives in a forest??

    • Annika says:

      Yep, Seth is killing it!
      I look forward to watching his clips while I get ready for work in the morning

    • Slowsnow says:

      Am I and Jennifer Lawrence the only ones who find Seth Meyers super sexy?

    • Traveler says:

      LOVE Seth Meyers ,Colbert, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee…………they keep me sane by reminding me that not all human beings are garbage (it’s sad but that’s where I am right now).
      Seth and his writers are especially smart. The commentary is just so intelligent and funny.

      • Jenn says:

        The TV shows you named are doing a great job of giving us a place to put our grief, anxiety, and righteous rage. They’re a relief, and they give me a little ray of hope to cling onto, same as you.

        I originally typed a long screed in this comment box about the real value of seeing our collective hurt, anger, and anguish represented on the screen, and living in a post-Jon Stewart world, but…. Instead I just wanted to say that we’re all in this together, there is still goodness in the world, and even though there’s no end in sight, this isn’t forever. I’m definitely feeling what you are feeling <3

  6. SamC says:

    Isn’t his wife Drew Barrymore’s production company partner? Totally makes sense she can pull off a good show, she has the background and knowledge.

    • Truthiness says:

      Nancy and the 2 girls are the ones who are killing it in quarantine. Frannie, the youngest, is fearless and HILARIOUS. Subversive. She does not stick to any script or what she is told to do. She boos, blows raspberries, somersaults into Jimmy and stomps up the stairs when she is tired of whatever he is asking her to help with. It’s like having a funny heckler who can get tired of his s–t. And looks like her mom with big dimples.

  7. Annika says:

    I’m also confused by the applause for Fallon…. I’ve never really been a fan, his late night shows aren’t my thing & I have checked out some of his YouTube shows since quarantine and they’re just….OK? I agree that his wife is the real talent here.
    I prefer what Conan, Seth Meyers & Trevor Noah have been doing with their shows.

  8. Haylee says:

    How is Bubble a total nut job?

    • Jenn says:

      He recently ELBOWED his wife during an Instagram Live they were doing, and not in an “oh, you!” way.

  9. lucy2 says:

    I only watch the occasional clips of late night shows anymore, in an effort to limit the amount of political stuff I intake.
    I have seen a few clips of Fallon, and I will say his energy is much more subdued and enjoyable than his regular show, which always seemed desperate and over the top.

  10. MrsPanda says:

    It’s interesting to read the comments about Fallon. I never followed him but he always seemed phony, fake-laughing etc. I watched a few segments of his home show, and he seems more sincere and relaxed in his interviews. Perhaps he’s still faking it though. No one is really what they seem, aside from Letterman (cranky, moody, acerbic). I actually miss Letterman sometimes. He’d be so snarky to his celebrity guests. He could be a sexist old perv with Dad jokes sometimes, but I like acerbic hosts rather than the up-the-celebs-ass hosts we have today. Also now they’re all doing video chat, we can see their eyes/expression more. You can see Ellen’s cold dead eyes, it seems harder to hide it without the different camera angles & pans to the audience etc!

  11. Scal says:

    I’ve been enjoying Trevor Noah for the first time in AGES. He’s so much better and witty in his apartment. I never want him to go back to studio.

    And he’s been paying all of the staff that can’t work remotely (camera men, gaffers etc) from his own pocket. Take notes ellen.

  12. CatWomen says:

    His wife is older then him and beautiful. She’s very intelligent. He’s lucky to have her and fools around enough she must know, keeps him on a long leash. It must work for her because she could leave him and no doubt he’d fall apart. She must be a very strong, lovely women.

  13. Abby B says:

    I love Jimmy, I always have. I do think he’s an alcoholic but he seems to have gotten a handle on it since that moment he broke his hand from being a fall down drunk in his own house. His relationship with Nancy seems very natural and genuine and I love watching them talk together. He seems so happy and grateful to have his two girls and so ready to hand over all the accolades to his wife for the show. I can’t even IMAGINE having to film and edit and light this all by myself five days a week – if anything is a recipe to hate each other in quarantine, it’s having THAT kind of responsibility heaped on a daily basis. But they obviously don’t. I buy that he’s a family man. He also has barely any game. He’s very personable and friendly with women but remember the Nicole Kidman story? He’s a dummy when it comes to even comprehending women are interested. I’m sure I’ll be ripped apart for believing what I see, but it’s just what I think!

    • MrsPanda says:

      I like to think this is right, Abby B! I found myself warming to him when I watched a couple of his ”at home” segments this week. I think it’s hard to fake that when you can see his real face up close on webcam etc, his eyes light up and he seems like a genuine guy. I think he’s one of those people who laughs very easily also (I’m similar), so it comes off too forced/fake on his talkshow but more natural on his home casts. Contrasted with Ellen’s home cast, when all I see is cold snake eyes. I like to think he’s actually a nice guy!

  14. Caroline says:

    Even tho he’s normally not my cuppa tea, Fallon has definitely done a good job w Nancy’s help, and I’ll echo what ppl have said above that she is beautiful and talented and deserves a lot of the credit, which I’m glad he’s freely given her.

    That said, I don’t doubt for a second that he’s been (maybe still is) an alcoholic and a cheater, but you know what? IDGAF because he’s not my husband, I’m not in that marriage and whatever troubles they have gone or are going through are *theirs*

    Nancy does not seem to be there under duress, she seems to be capable of deciding what battles to fight (or not) and if she chooses to stay and make their family work despite his failings I am not going to criticize it. I mean, come on.

  15. waitwhat says:

    I always thought Trevor was so smug, but he is growing on my big-time during the pandemic. He also gave an interview on CBS News Sunday Morning where he said he was made for a pandemic because he enjoys not having to come up with excuses not to go out. He seems to genuinely love NYC, but he’s more of an introvert (like me). Finding him much more relatable these days.

  16. adastraperaspera says:

    I think Fallon succeeds in this situation because he’s primarily an entertainer and musician. I think he’s a terrible in-person interviewer, so I don’t watch his regular show. Also, the fake laugh is gone when he’s at home, which is a relief. I have to say I pretty much gave up on the big late night shows when it became clear that all the hosts would continue to be chosen from one predictable demographic.

  17. Kamala says:

    I always get Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmell mixed up and I don’t think it’s just because they share the same name. It’s probably to do with the banality of their personalities and material..