Last night, I had tickets for “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” They took a long time to get, like months and months and months, and it finally happened. I was finally there in the audience. I have lived in NYC for two decades now, so I have been to tapings of quite a few shows over the years. David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, and others. And as a performer and actor myself, I have been on set doing background work for several things as well. So this isn’t my first rodeo, as they say. However, I have a gigantic crush on Jimmy Fallon. It has sort of evolved from “harmless crush” to “when are you going to leave your wife and realize that you belong with me?” hysteria. He is absolutely adorable, so talented and funny, and seems to always be genuinely thankful for his life and all the great work he has. He is always having a blast, and that is contagious. My husband Don and I both loved him on Saturday Night Live and we watched his first late night show too, but when Don died, Fallon’s version of “The Tonight Show” was one of the things I watched most often to try to get back to the laughter. It made me feel joy, even if only for that hour or so each weeknight. In the beginning months of grief, an hour of joy is a ginormous victory.
So last night, a friend and I had tickets. On Thursdays in the summer months, the show tapes both the Thursday show and the Friday show back to back. So, it will actually air tonight. The guests were Kevin Bacon and Mel B., and Fallon and Bacon did a hilarious Beach Boys sketch that is still in my head today. The show’s house band, The Roots, were insanely good live, and the whole thing was such a fun blast of an experience.
Sometimes Jimmy plays games with his guests or the audience. Our seats were close. I was hoping that maybe he would play a game like Pictionary, where they choose two people from the crowd to play with the celebrity guests, and that maybe he would choose me. And then when I got up on the stage, he would ask me “so what do you do?” and Id be able to say: “Well Im a comedian and writer, and I actually give comedic presentations at an annual event called Camp Widow, which is run by a great non profit called Soaring Spirits International.” And then he would maybe ask me if I lost my spouse to death, and then I would be able to maybe say Don’s name on “The Tonight Show” which he would have found incredibly cool. And then during the commercial I would maybe slip him my business card with my comedy videos and stuff on it, and also the card for Soaring Spirits, and then he would maybe decide to give a donation to SS. Yes, all of this was inside my head the night before going to the show, and so I made sure to have the cards inside my pocket, just in case any of this came true. It didn’t.
However, at the very end of each show, Jimmy runs up one aisle and then down the other, slapping five and shaking hands with whoever is seated on each aisle seat. A few people even get hugs. I was on the aisle seat, and so as he made his way quickly down the aisle, I prepared mentally and physically for the insanely fast moment about to take place. I put my arms out for the hug, and he went for it. Jimmy Fallon hugged me. And oh my god, he gives great hugs. I wanted so much to tell him in that tiny moment, how being on “Saturday Night Live” has been my dream since I was a little kid, and how much I absolutely love him and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and everything they did on that show and since. I wanted to tell him how much I love his many impressions, and how much he makes me laugh, and how we find all the same things funny, and how I fantasize about sitting on that couch next to him and getting to play one of the many fun games he plays with guests. (Id love to do a lipsync battle, or star in one of the made-up old sitcom sketches he does with guests.) And I REALLY wanted to tell him how he saved my life over and over again after losing Don, and how he was one of the few things I could watch without grief-triggers, and just laugh for the sake of laughing. I really wanted to tell him how much Id LOVE to work with him one day, and how much I admire and love his genuine personality and the way he carries himself as a person of celebrity. But there was no time for any of that, because the moment was lightning quick, and then it was over. So instead, while we were hugging, I said: “I love you so much. You are my comedy hero. ” It is what came out. Kind of lame, yes, but I was nervous and sweating and my TV crush was hugging me. He answered me very genuinely with: “Oh, thank you so, so much.” And now I can just hope that maybe our hug is on the TV screen before it cuts off credits, and I can capture a screenshot of us in that tiny moment that meant so much. Honestly, I felt like Marcia Brady, after Davey Jones kissed her on the cheek, and she said: “Ill never wash this cheek again.” Yup. Pretty much.
Maybe it will end up being the first of many encounters with my Jimmy.
I can dream, right? And then work to make it happen. But first, dream.
Everything begins with a dream.