10 Clearly Unscripted Moments from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

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As Jimmy Fallon gets ready to yield his beloved 12:35am EST time slot to Seth Meyers, it’s a good time to look back at what we loved about Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Fallon is well-known for breaking character from his SNL days, and Late Night embraced that quality. The result was tons of impromptu moments and, frankly, a show that seemed more real than most reality television these days. Here are ten.

1. DMX Thank You Note

It’s hard to imagine that it could get any better than Jimmy writing a thank you note to DMX. But he also raps, “All you need for a hip hop treat / Are some words that rhyme and a really good beat.” Announcer Steve Higgins can’t help but get in on the action and the whole thing deteriorates into references to corncob pipes, raccoon skin coats, and jalopies. Jimmy never seems to recover from the incident as the thank you notes continue.

2. Real People, Fake Arms with Miley Cyrus

In Miley’s defense, her visit to Late Night was smack-dab in the middle of her strenuous promotional tour for her album Bangerz. Her performance in the recurring sketch “Real People, Fake Arms” doesn’t seem to go as rehearsed. She’s supposed to be hiding her real hands from the camera, but they pop onto the screen every once in a while. Jimmy acknowledges her blunders towards the end, saying, “I think I saw an extra hand there.”

3. Improv Dance with Rebel Wilson

Jimmy enlists the hilarious Rebel Wilson to make up dance moves with him like “The Mick Jagger Chicken” and “The I’m Holding Too Much Eye Contact While Thrusting.” The spontaneity comes in when they refuse to act out one card and Rebel asks, “Who wrote these?” As usual, this leaves Jimmy in hysterics.

4. Jeff Musial Fails to Scare Jimmy

Every late show has an animal expert periodically stop by with a bunch of wild animals to terrify the host. It’s comedy gold. Jeff Musial is that person for Late Night. One of his most awkward visits to the show involves a prank gift that his kids allegedly made for Jimmy. When the old fake-spider-in-a-box trick fails to scare him, Jimmy’s face is priceless as he tosses the cube aside (watch at 1:55).

5. The Puppy Predictors Go Nuts

It would be a crime to script a segment that involves Jimmy Fallon and puppies. This is clear when Jimmy tries to calm his “puppy predictors” before releasing them. When they finally get let out, half of them run in opposite directions. Jimmy ends up scooping up puppies through the rest of the segment. But, hey, the overall group predicts Argo, which did win the Academy Award that year. Maybe the puppies know something we don’t.

6. Egg Roulette with Tom Cruise

Jimmy must have a way of convincing celebrities to do bizarre things, such as getting Tom Cruise to smash eggs into his hair for a game of “Egg Roulette.” Tom loses this round, cracking two raw eggs over his head. It’s hard to believe that Tom wouldn’t have micromanaged this game during the pre-show, but Jimmy’s hysterical laughter reveals how authentic the interaction is. He even yells, “This is the best, man!”

7. Jimmy’s Post-Pun Walk Away

Every week, Jimmy solicits his Twitter followers for tweets using a particular hashtag, like this one: #PolarVortexSongs. One tweet contains the pun “Chilly Joel,” which encourages Jimmy and Steve to start making puns of their own. Jimmy makes his last joke, then walks away ... through the set window. Warranted? Probably.

8. Freestylin’ with The Roots

A more obvious example of unscripted moments from the show is the popular segment, “Freestylin’ with The Roots.” It’s great to see Jimmy charm his audience and hear The Roots jam in all different genres. Plus, they have tough material to work with, like audience member Troy, who says he would have named the royal baby Prince Lucifer.

9. Jennifer Aniston Can’t Play Pictionary

Jimmy and Jennifer are joined by Lenny Kravitz and CeeLo Green in one of Jimmy’s favorite games, Pictionary. Jennifer seems reluctant to play and walks up to the other team’s easel. She groans, “I told you I stink at this!” Then CeeLo shouts out guesses for the other team. The moral is that if you’re ever playing celebrity Pictionary, pick Lenny Kravitz to be on your team.

10. Questlove’s Spit Take

Why did Questlove spit during Jimmy’s interview with Key and Peele? Who knows. Does it matter? No way. And because this one deserves to be watched over and over again, the Late Night tumblr has a gif. You’re welcome. 

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February 7, 2014 - 11:00am
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