Originally aired May 3, 2011 on WRGW Radio from The George Washington University.
Jesse Regis joined by colleague Jared Pliner.
Interview edited for length and clarity. Audio available upon request. All rights reserved.
Jesse Regis: Less than one day after U.S. Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, we now talk to the man that most of the world is talking about at this moment, the host of NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy how are you?
Jimmy Fallon: Let me tell you something, where were you guys when you heard the news?
Regis: I was in a cab coming back from the Sweetlife Festival
Fallon: Ah, very cool, and you heard it on the radio?
Regis: I actually looked at it on my phone after someone messaged me and said check the news out.
Fallon: Really? A cryptic message to check the news out?
Regis: Yeah, yeah, and you go on the news and it says “President Obama is going to make a statement about an undisclosed topic,” and the world is going into a panic. The President just can't do that – what is this undisclosed topic!? It was kind of crazy.
Fallon: Yeah, are they bringing Chuck back for another season? You know where I was? I'm not kidding, I swear to God, I was playing Risk online on XBOX Live with my friend, and we were blowing up countries playing the game Risk and then I got a phone call from my mother and she said, “Osama Bin Laden's dead,” and I looked at my controller and I'm like, “This thing is real!” It's War Games. For a second I thought I killed Osama Bin Laden.
Jared Pliner: Yeah, special forces are playing real Risk, Jimmy. In the mountains.
Fallon: It's War Games, you've seen the movie.
Regis: No, I haven't. It's okay.
Fallon: Yeah, well, read the book. Is there a book?
Regis: You should write one.
Fallon: I should write the book called War Games.
Regis: You're an accomplished author now, you have to.
Pliner: In addition to Thank You Notes.
Fallon: Yeah, I'm an author now. I feel good about it.
Pliner: Yes, you are.
Fallon: May 23rd you can go to a book store, if they still exist, and you can buy for ten dollars a Thank You Notes book.
Pliner: I'm thumbing through it right now it looks beautiful.
Fallon: There's a lot of fun pictures. If you don't like to read words there's pictures. There's probably like 200 jokes in there. The thing I like about it is everyone can get a laugh. I like joke books and I think anyone can read this – you can read it out loud, you can have Thanksgiving dinner and pass the book around the table. Gradma getting a laugh, Grandpa getting a laugh. Or you can read it by yourself. It's an affordable gift is what I really like about it.
Pliner: Jimmy, I got to ask, where did the whole thank you notes concept come from? I know you do it on Late Night. Was this part of stand-up at one point in time, or did this sort of come to you?
Fallon: We have these writers meetings. You sit in the room with all the writers on the show and just come up with different ideas. I sarcastically was talking about something. I think I was writing a thank you note just to the word 'moist' saying how much I don't like the word 'moist' and that I think America agrees with me that you shouldn't be a word anymore. So we're laughing and this writer Jeremy Bronson was like, “We should do a whole bit about thank you notes and just write up a bunch of different thank you notes. So, Jeremy came up with this thank you notes segment and then we just took it from there. We just started adding different subjects. It ranges from anything, really. It would be like, “Thank You guy with the $10,000 sound system in his $800 car for driving down Broadway this afternoon. You're loud, you're proud, you're in a '91 Tercel."
Regis: I saw that. That's awesome.
Fallon: Yeah, stuff like that. We just have fun with it. I get the tweets from the fans, and it turns out the fans really liked it so we just kept doing it. Now, we're two years into the show so we figured why not, let's put out a book of all the best thank you notes.
Regis: Yeah, I got to ask you, sticking with current events, what you thought about your former SNL colleague Seth Myers performance at the White House Correspondence Dinner.
Fallon: I thought he was great. It's hard to follow the President because he's such a great speaker. Anytime the actual person is making jokes about themselves it's a guaranteed laugh. It's pretty hard to follow that. I thought he did a great job following that. He had some good Trump jokes and he did good.
Pliner: The better question is why Donald Trump showed up under the notion that nobody was going to talk about him.
Fallon: I know, and he knows better I think, too. Wasn't there a Comedy Central Roast about Donald Trump?
Fallon: Yeah and he was a good sport then. He might be playing into the whole thing right now that this is serious and everything has to be taken seriously. Maybe it was a point he was trying to make, I don't know.
Pliner: Have you had him on the show?
Fallon: Yeah, a bunch of times.
Pliner: Oh, you have?
Fallon: He's a great guy. Yeah, he comes on all the time.
Pliner: No kidding.
Fallon: I mean, I'll talk to him about it if he comes on the show and be like, “Come on”. He knows Seth. I mean, he's hosted Saturday Night Live.
Pliner: That's right.
Regis: You do have a great Trump impression. I'm not going to make you do it! Unless you want to.
Fallon: No, I don't care! I think we might do one tonight. We're writing it right now.
Regis: And, I have to ask you about this. I'm a huge Springsteen fan, huge Neil Young fan and you do some awesome impressions. I really admire you because you are an actual musician. You're actually getting up there and you're doing this. Where does all this musical inspiration come from and how does it come together with your show? And, where's all this Springsteen love coming from?
Fallon: He's my man, I love Springsteen. I've always loved Bruce Springsteen, who doesn't? We asked him if we could sing his song like a Glee version of his song for the Emmy opening. He was like “[Springsteen Impression] Yeah man, whatever Jimmy wants to do, let him do it.” He's just super cool. So, we did the opening, and it really was great for us. The Emmy's was a big deal for us. So, he saw that and then he said look I got to promote this box set for Darkness on the Edge of Town, which I got to say is one of the coolest box sets out there. The box set looks like an old college notebook with all his notes scribbled in of all the lyrics to his songs. It's a phenomenal box set, if you know anybody that likes Bruce Springsteen. He's like I can do one show so let me do Jimmy Fallon. So, he came on and we pitched him singing Willow Smith's “Whip My Hair” as Bruce and Neil Young and he was like “[Springsteen Impression] Yeah, whatever you want to do let's try it,” and it killed so I was very lucky.
Pliner: Jimmy, last question and it's a two parter. Who was your favorite guest thus far, and who is your dream guest?
Fallon: I can't do favorite guest because other people would say, “Wait, you didn't think I was your favorite?” so I'm not going to do that. The one I want to have – I want to go to space with Richard Branson and David Bowie.