Meet Jimmy Fallon, the Saturday Night Live alum who not only finessed his standup chops before launching the all-new (and super-successful) Late Night, he cleaned up his health act, too. Here are the top 5 ways (top 10 lists are so old school) Fallon’s gig helped him to be the comedian who, health-wise, laughs longest -- and best.
No. 5. He got LASIK to help him see the teleprompter.
While most nearsighted folks resort to wearing glasses or simply pop in a pair of contact lenses, Fallon says, "No, I can’t do glasses. It’s goes back to Saturday Night Live.” An SNL cast member from 1999 to 2004, the comic is best known for co-anchoring “Weekend Update” with Tina Fey. “I tried to wear glasses,” he tells WebMD. “But she’s so well-known for wearing hers, and it was just too goofy, the two of us with our glasses, reading the news, so I went without.” He also has a phobia about “putting something onto my eyeball every day ... ugh”, so contacts weren’t an option, either.
Instead, Fallon got LASIK to read the cue cards during his monologue. The procedure is done by an ophthalmologist, who numbs the eyeball and shoots a laser into the cornea to reshape it for better vision. “[Afterward], my vision was a little blurry, he says. “They prepared me for it ... but it was still nerve-wracking. It took two-and-a-half weeks, and then, wow! I could see.”
No. 4. He realized he only gets sick on vacation -- and wanted to know why.
“It’s always when I take a week off -- that’s when the body falls apart,” says the funnyman. Type A personalities like Fallon tend to burn the candles at both ends, and then seem surprised when they start sneezing the second their suitcases are packed. Consider what Phyllis Kozarsky, MD, travel health expert for the CDC, says: “Stress plays a role in making us sick. By the time we are on our so-called ‘break,’ we’re utterly drained and susceptible to catching whatever bug is floating by.”
Kozarsky coaches her patients to schedule a full 24 hours after landing in their new clime to unwind, sleep, and take care of themselves, “but rarely do they listen to me. Most get off the plane at 8 a.m. after flying all night into some other country, only to rush to a meeting [or destination] at 9 a.m., without any real sleep.” It’s this nonstop mentality “that wears down our immune systems and lowers our resistance to staving off infectious diseases.”
No. 3. He traded “hair-of-the-dog” Sundays for drinking raw juice.
“I’ve started drinking this mixture of spinach, parsley, and God knows what else is in it,” the comedian tells WebMD. “And I do fish oil supplements, eat salads, that kind of thing.” But that’s only a start, says Samantha Heller, MS, RD, and author of Get Smart: Samantha Heller’s Nutrition Prescription for Boosting Brain Power and Optimizing Total Body Health, due out in 2010. Heller says Fallon needs “regular exercise plus a balanced diet to keep his immune system strong. I hope he’s not gulping down his green juice with a cheeseburger and fries!” She adds: “Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils have been shown to reduce inflammation from stress, and vegetable juices can add to overall nutrition.”
So grab a juice and head for the produce aisle, but head to the gym and skip fast food joints, too.
No. 2. He battled his stage fright.
“I get nervous all the time. I’m just as nervous before going on stage in a small venue as I am doing my act for the first lady,” says Fallon, who admits that he is no extrovert. Surprised to learn a seasoned comedy pro still gets the jitters? Don’t be. Fallon shares a fear of public speaking with most of us. But he loosens up as he continues, notes Paul L. Witt, PhD, associate professor in the department of communications studies at Texas Christian University. “He’s taught himself to adapt, to relax into the stress of the performance.”
You can too with just a few smart techniques. First, if you’re prone to sweating, wear cool, loose-fitting clothing. Bring a glass of water to the podium if you suffer from dry mouth. And practice deep-breathing to calm your nerves. Once on stage, avoid using a microphone, if possible; projecting your voice, which forces air into your lungs, helps to calm you down. If your hands are trembling, hide them behind your back or place them on the podium. Finally, ask for feedback after the presentation. “If your audience praises you, or if they laughed a lot during it, you know you’ve done a good job,” says Witt. “And you realize your fears were irrational.”
And the No. 1 way Fallon changed his health habits to succeed on Late Night:
No. 1. He realized he can’t get sick -- he’s the host!
“If the host gets sick, there is no show,” says Fallon simply. And “the grind, but the good grind” of 200-plus performances each year before a live audience is a daunting proposition for any performer. So Fallon is treating his new duties like a boxer training to go extra rounds. (Cue Rocky music here.) These days the comedian sleeps more, goes out less, and takes care of himself. Because preventing illness is no joke -- not even for Late Night’s new king.