Looking back, Jimmy Fallon would have done some things differently.
In a tell-all interview with The New York Times, the 42-year-old host of The Tonight Show addresses criticism that he’s received since heading up the NBC program, and the show’s ratings decline in recent months.
Last October, the New York Post came out with a report that network executives had “fears that Fallon was out of control” and were concerned about his drinking habits. The article also noted that Fallon had suffered two hand injuries the following year. The report came out over 10 months after NBC entertainment chief, Bob Greenblatt, told reporters that Fallon “doesn’t have a drinking problem that any of us know about.”
“I could never do a day-to-day job if I was drinking every night,” Fallon tells The Times of the allegations. “That’s just kicking you when you’re down.”
“I don’t half-a** it,” he later notes. “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right. There will be a day when we can allow ourselves to be tired. I don’t know when it is, but it can’t be now.”
Fallon also recalls the backlash he received in September for his lighthearted chat with Donald Trump — which included the host tussling with the future president’s hair. The 42-year-old comedian was immediately slammed by some Tonight Show viewers — including former Late Show host David Letterman — for being too playful with Trump and not asking him the hard questions.
“I didn’t do it to humanize him,” Fallon says of the hair ruffling. “I almost did it to minimize him. I didn’t think that would be a compliment: ‘He did the thing that we all wanted to do.’”
“They have a right to be mad,” he adds. “If I let anyone down, it hurt my feelings that they didn’t like it. I got it.”
Fallon admits that the negative feedback did get to him. “I’m a people pleaser,” he confides. “If there’s one bad thing on Twitter about me, it will make me upset. So, after this happened, I was devastated. I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just trying to have fun.”
In hindsight, Fallon wishes he would have addressed the comments regarding his Trump interview head-on, much like Late Show host Stephen Colbert did recently when #FireColbert started trending after comments he made about the president. “I didn’t talk about it, and I should have talked about it,” Fallon reflects. “I regret that.”
However, the Tonight Show must go on. “I tossed and turned for a couple of weeks, but I have to make people laugh,” he confesses. “People that voted for Trump watch my show as well.”
Standing his ground, Fallon insists, “I don’t want to be bullied into not being me, and not doing what I think is funny. Just because some people bash me on Twitter, it’s not going to change my humor or my show.”
As for the show’s dip in ratings, Fallon claims, “I never, ever care. I’ll know when someone fires me.”
He adds, “It’s not The Jimmy Fallon Show. It’s The Tonight Show.”