Jimmy Fallon regrets messing up Donald Trump's hair on The Tonight Show
Late night talk shows have changed a lot. There used to be just a couple choices, and now there's a million: Kimmel, Colbert, Fallon, Meyers, Corden, Bee, Noah, O'Brien, Klepper, Maher - yeah, they're mostly white dudes, but so what?: As a white dude, I have to admit, we're great at putting people to sleep.
Each host figures out a way to stand out. Conan O'Brien makes improvised field pieces where he experiences different cultures. Seth Meyers explains political issues and delivers brutal satire. And Jimmy Fallon plays party games with his guests, infusing every show with an infectious puppy dog-like energy.
In a rare event, Fallon became the center of controversy in September 2016. At the time, Donald Trump was the Republican nominee for president, and appeared on The Tonight Show a month before the election. Over the years, Trump has been mocked for his unique hair, which has been described as an "abandoned nest," a "mound of cotton candy," and a "Mobius combover." Some doubted it was real. So, Fallon did a bit where he messed up Trump's hair.
The video went viral, and Trump supporters found the segment endearing. However, Trump critics hated it, and criticized Fallon for 'normalizing' a controversial presidential candidate. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the jovial host broke his silence on Touslegate. Fallon said he regrets messing up The Donald's hair.
"I did not do it to 'normalize' him or to say I believe in his political beliefs or any of that stuff. ... I’m sorry. I don’t want to make anyone angry — I never do and I never will. It’s all in the fun of the show. I made a mistake. I’m sorry if I made anyone mad. And, looking back, I would do it differently."
If Trump was just the host of Celebrity Apprentice, people probably wouldn't have cared about the hair tousle. But since Trump was a presidential candidate, and the polls were close, it got a backlash from concerned citizens. Fallon said it hurt to get mocked by his comedy peers.
"I saw other comedians from other shows making fun of me on Twitter and I go, 'Okay, now I'm just gonna get off.' They know the show. I'm just doing five hours a week. I get in at 10 in the morning, I work 'til seven at night and I'm just trying to make a funny show.
"You know the grind and you know me. Of all the people in the world, I’m one of the good people. I mean, really. You don’t even know what you’re talking about if you say that I’m evil or whatever."
Since the hair mussing incident, ratings for The Tonight Show have fallen 20 percent. Television viewers are current opting to watch talk shows with more biting political comedy, like Colbert and Kimmel. But everything goes in cycles, so it's only a matter of time before the pendulum swings back in his favor.
After all, in the current media landscape, there's room for everybody. Seth Meyers probably put it best, in an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter:
"Some people want to turn on TV, like late night shows, and they want to see hard takes on politics. They want to be reminded of everything that’s going in the world, and then other people use it for escapism. I think it’s important that those shows still exist for people who want to tune out politics for a night, and I think Jimmy does that better than anybody. I think he’s an entertainer."