Jimmy Fallon Has a New Show and a New Health Regimen
The new Late Night host talks about being funny, being fit, and dealing with stage fright.
Fallon's multiple talents
Voted in his high school yearbook "Most Likely to Replace David Letterman,"
Fallon prepped for his dream job by working smaller venues across the country
and getting "the immediate results" that only stand-up comedy can bring. "If
it's funny, they laugh. If it's not, they don't," he tells WebMD
Magazine. "You just can't get that kind of feedback on a movie set."
Years of acting in Hollywood films such as Fever Pitch and
Taxi removed that instant gratification. Fallon recently wrapped Whip
It!, opening Oct. 9, which is directed by pal Drew Barrymore. Barrymore
runs a production company, Flower Films, with Fallon's wife, producer Nancy
Juvonen, 42, married to Fallon since December 2007.
Stand-up and acting aren't his only talents. Fallon also has musical chops.
He sings in a hilarious MTV video, was nominated for a Grammy for a comedy
album in 2003, and shines brightest when strumming his guitar or impersonating
the industry's biggest pop stars. He even helped woo his musical heroes, The
Roots, to be Late Night's in-house band.
Still, most performers know that live comedy takes extra guts. And Fallon is
first to admit he's no born extrovert. "I get nervous all the time. I'm just as
nervous before going on stage in a small venue in Nashville as I am doing my
act for the first lady." He's referring to his recent emcee duties for the
highly publicized Time 100 party celebrating the world's "most influential"
people, including Michelle Obama. While he wasn't officially honored, he was
invited to the gig and asked to amuse the intelligentsia. "There were
physicists there," Fallon says, "Oprah … the Twitter guys … I did OK. It's
never as bad as you think and never as good."
What causes stage fright?
Surprised to learn that a pro like Fallon, who has faced hundreds of live
audiences (and a few hecklers) during the course of his career, still fights
off stage fright? Don't be. "Almost everyone feels anxious before speaking in
public," says Paul L. Witt, PhD, associate professor in department of
communications studies at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. "In fact,
many Americans cite it as their No. 1 fear. But for some of us, research shows
this type of anxiety trait is actually hard-wired."
Witt's ongoing studies suggest that people are born along a spectrum of
anxiety, with "sensitizers" innately possessing high-trait anxiety and
"habituators" possessing little or none. Most of us fall somewhere in
"If Fallon is nervous before every performance but loosens up as he
continues," Witt says, "I'd say he was born with the anxiety trait but
habituates to his surroundings. In other words, he's taught himself to adapt,
to relax into the stress of performing, but he'll always face this challenge.
Some folks find it impossible to adapt -- and maybe they shouldn't become
politicians, teachers, or comedians. But most of us can learn methods that help
us to cope and succeed."