Jimmy Fallon has a weekday schedule that is so tight, almost every minute is accounted for, from the moment he walks into his studios at New York’s 30 Rock to the time he leaves, often 12-plus hours later. Thankfully, the comedian is one of those near-mythic creatures who can remain energized and cheerful in the midst of even the most pressure-packed days.
In fact, the 41-year-old seems to thrive on the pace, using his spare energy to invent things (his hybrid pocket square–iPhone case collaboration with J. Crew), mastermind virtual-experience theme-park rides (Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is scheduled to open at Universal Orlando Resort next year), and conquer the publishing world (his picture book, Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada, is a New York Times best seller).
The host’s command central for this immense creative output, a retro-feeling sixth-floor office, is everything you’d expect: Controllers for multiple video-game consoles line the windowsill, a voice-controlled stereo system is primed to play whatever music he wants to hear (Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” is the soundtrack to today’s interview), and framed photos of Fallon with his family (wife and film producer Nancy Juvonen and daughters Winnie, 3, and Frances, 1) and friends (including Lorne Michaels, Paul McCartney, and “my other wife,” Justin Timberlake) cover the walls. The space feels personal and fun—the same two hallmarks of Fallon’s successful seven-year tenure as a late-night host. But as much of a blast as he and his guests are having on TV, the two toddlers in his living room are clearly Fallon’s hottest crowd.
What jokes are killing at home right now?
Winnie will put out this pillow, and she’ll ask me to sit on it and read with her. It’s a tiny pillow, so I’ll go, “Aww, I can’t. That’s too small for Daddy. Well, let me just sit on it,” and then I do this whole thing where I fall down, and she goes nuts. Pratfalling is very popular. Sound effects too—it’s a whole different style of comedy. In general, if I make people laugh, it makes me feel good. So to see them laugh is like, Whoa.
How has being a dad made you even more successful on-air?
Once kids are in your life, it’s like, “Oh, yeah, that’s it, that’s my number-one care. Is everything OK there?” If it is, then these other things that you think might be problems—they’re not real problems. You have to be light on your feet as a parent. There are so many audibles when you have children. They throw up all over the car and you go, “OK, we’re not taking the car.” Or, “We have to drive with the windows down.” It’s all problem-solving. It just makes it easier at work to say, “We’ll figure it out. We’ll get there.”
You were our Man of Style in 2004, so now you’re in the two-timers club. In that shoot, you were jumping in the air in the opening shot. Did you have the urge to jump around this time around?
No, no jumping. I’ve matured. This time I’m doing a couple of smirks. A lot of adjusting. I’m a comedian, so I’ll always do silly faces first. I’m like, “Do you want me to pretend there’s an alien coming out of my stomach?” I remember one photographer at another shoot said, “Can you stop posing?” And I said, “OK, I’m not.” And then he goes, “OK, you’re posing again. Please stop.” And I’m like, “I just don’t know how to do this.”
What about style? Does that come naturally?
Growing up, I was a T-shirt and jeans kid. But I was always interested in fashion. By college, I was thinking more about looks that worked for me and ones that didn’t. Should I do Kurt Cobain? I had the cardigans and the T-shirts and the ripped jeans. In my Beastie Boys phase, I was just wearing ski hats to class. But I was also very goofy, so I’d wear a Wendy’s shirt, like I worked at Wendy’s.
Well, that was a thing for a little while. That and gas-station jackets.
Gas-station jackets! Oh, I totally had a gas-station jacket. And Carhartt. They came out with different color Carhartt coats for a while. I think I had a maroon one [laughs]. Yeah, I tried it all.
Did you continue to experiment with your look after college?
As far as hair goes, I’ve never cracked the code, really. I’m at an OK phase right now, but on [SNL’s] Weekend Update, I tried every hairstyle known to man. Awful ones. Asymmetrical ones. Haircuts where [co-anchor] Tina [Fey] was saying, “What is going on with that?” And I was like [exhales], “I know. This one’s a bad one.” I remember looking at magazines and thinking, That’s a good look. I’d do that.
Were there any particularly memorable hair-inspiration images?
My hairstyle when I first auditioned for SNL was from a picture I saw of Kate Beckinsale when she had puffed-out, spiky hair. I was definitely the only one with that cut at the audition.
What’s your current go-to outfit?
Just button-up shirts, khakis, brown shoes— nothing exciting. I think the key is if you can get anything tailored, do it. Even if it’s at your local dry cleaner, it’s a game-changer. It has been for me. I remember reading somewhere that a celebrity got their jeans tailored and I thought, You can get your jeans tailored? I’m trying to remember who it was … Who was the girl from Party of Five?
Neve Campbell! It was Neve Campbell who got her jeans tailored. Google it—maybe I’m wrong, but I think it was her. I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with women’s fashion. Kate Beckinsale and Neve Campbell changed my life.
Photo credits: Hair by Courtney Benedetti for Tracey Mattingly; Makeup by Cyndie Lou for Tracey Mattingly; Styling by Brian Coats/The Wall Group; Set design by Cooper Vasquez/The Wall Group; Production by Freebird Production; Location, Soho Lofts NYC.