We interrupt our usual henna stories to bring you this special report:
Yep!!!!!!! We were in!!!! To my surprise, they let in 50 standby ticket holders. I have no idea what happened to those 50 people who got advance tickets to a sold-out show and weren't there to fill the seats, but let this be a bit of encouragement: If you find yourself unable to get advance tickets and you would be going to NYC anyway, just GO and try the standby line. Just don't do it in late January unless you're prepared to dress like you're going to climb Everest.
We went through a security check, and as I was waiting for my husband, I glanced up and saw a portrait of Jimmy on the wall. My heart fluttered. Holy cow, this is real. We then were escorted into the Peacock Lounge. I wish I'd gotten a photograph of the interior: it's beautiful, walls filled with big, digital frames showing stills from iconic Tonight Show and Late Night moments. It was fun to watch and say, "Yep ... saw that one ... saw that one, too."
Let me stop here and say that the folks working for NBC are solid pros. They corralled us and got us up the elevators and into the studio in a very organized, speedy fashion. They obviously love what they do and were excited for us to experience the taping. They made it that much more fun.
So, anyway ... did I mention I was a Falpal?
It was soon our turn to enter Studio 6B. A page was directing us to the right section (as you're facing the stage) to sit in the very top row. Ah well. Not the seat I was hoping for. I was literally as far away from Jimmy's desk as you can be. However, contrary to how it looks on television, the studio really isn't that big. Holds only about 250 people, and no seat is a "bad" seat.
As I was walking past the top row of the center section, there sitting by himself on the far right end of the row was a gentleman I recognized immediately. I could not believe who I was seeing, and I nearly had a fangirl freeze.
We walked by, and I collected myself, looked down and said, "Mr. Fallon???"
He looked up and gave me a very friendly smile and said, "Yes!"
I waved like a goof. "Hi there!!!!!" Then I elbowed Rich and said, "That's Jimmy's dad!"
Seth introduced The Roots, and the electricity in the room built as they jammed, some of the members coming out on the stage as Seth did a little freestyle rapping. Then I looked to my left and saw a tall gent with glasses. It was announcer Steve Higgins, which meant the show was seconds away from starting.
We heard "30 seconds" announced over the speakers. The opening title started to play on the numerous monitors that hung from the rigging overhead, and Steve announced the evening's guests:
Questlove did his callout ... "Show 1,000!" ... and then, it was the moment we all had been waiting for ...
"And now ... here he is ... Jimmmmmmmy Falllllllllon!!!!!"
We were on our feet, applauding. The blue curtain parted.
And there he was indeed.
At this point, my brain was having an interesting conversation with itself:
"Of course, there's Jimmy."
"But he's right there! OMG, he's real!"
"Of course, he's real."
"And he's right there!"
"Where else would he be? You're at a taping of The Tonight Show."
I was still feeling like I was in a dream as Jimmy went through the opening monologue. I kept looking back and forth from the monitor to the stage, not quite believing I was there and it was finally happening.
The show was a blast, especially Robert Irwin's segment. Just Google "Jimmy Fallon camel kiss" and you'll see what I mean. I won't go play-by-play through the show itself, but if you're interested in seeing what I saw, I've curated a YouTube playlist here.
As Jimmy began the "Talk Like Trump" segment, which is an audience-participation bit, my husband nudged me and said, "You should raise your hand!" I told him that he always does that bit from the other aisle in the studio, and frankly I was relieved. It would've been cool to have been on camera and talked to Jimmy one-on-one, but that would have been my fangirl-freeze moment. I probably would've passed the hell out.
Perhaps what fascinated me more than anything was watching what went on behind the scenes and between segments. When they go to "commercial break," they actually do pause taping even though the show isn't broadcast live and there are no actual commercials playing. During those breaks, writers and producers go to the stage and talk with Jimmy. He reviews what appear to be notes about whomever is the next guest. And the makeup and hair folks touch him up.
It was also amazing to see how many people are actively on and near the stage but out of camera range, making things happen. The show is a well-oiled machine, and the time we spent for the taping came out to about 1 hour and 15 minutes – slick for a show that is roughly 44 minutes long when you remove commercials.
So ... regarding not being on the aisle seat:
Jimmy's end-of-show ritual is to jog up one aisle, across the back and then down the other aisle giving high-fives to as many audience members as he can. Being the shortie I am, I knew chances were slim that I'd actually get hand-to-hand contact. But I was gonna try. So, here we are at the end of the taping:
Just as he got to our row, he turned to his right and threw his arms around his dad, gave him a really long hug. At one point, he looked around, gesturing toward his father, and I saw him say, "This is my dad!" The audience members around him gaped in surprise, and I knew that the senior Mr. Fallon had not blabbed to anyone who he was. Jimmy resembles his late mother a lot more strongly than he does his father, so you likely wouldn't make the connection unless you are, like me, a superfan. What a classy gentleman!
And that about sums it up: The Tonight Show is a class act. And so is Jimmy.
As we filed happily out of the studio and back downstairs, we exited through the NBC Store and were handed a 10% off coupon. How convenient! We used the heck out of it:
This is the coziest sweatshirt on the planet. I also got a coffee mug, T-shirt, beanie, magnet set and pillow.
So, from the heart of one Falpal, thank you, Jimmy, for an incredible evening and an unforgettable memory of my 49th birthday celebration. Hope to see you again on my next trip to NYC!