Jimmy’s Acting “Roots”
This article came out May 2009, but I love how it covers Jimmy’s early acting days & gives us some insight into what he was like in college. There’s some pretty juicy stuff in here!
(VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP)
Fallon finally getting his college diploma (and he really earned it)
By SCOTT WALDMAN
ALBANY TIMES UNION
ALBANY, N.Y. — Jimmy Fallon has his own late-night talk show. He was a cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and has a Grammy-nominated comedy album. People magazine recently picked him as one of the world’s 100 sexiest people.
What Fallon did not have — was 15 credits shy of having — was a College of Saint Rose degree.
“I was hoping they’d see my life and give me some credit,” Fallon said this week.
Being famous and accomplished can get you an honorary degree from Saint Rose.
But the bachelor of arts diploma Fallon will receive on Saturday, along with the rest of the Class of 2009, is one he has earned since leaving the school to pursue stardom.
Jimmy Fallon learned how to be funny at Saint Rose.
There’s a video in the communications department office called “40 Whacks.” It was made in 1995 and shows Fallon pretending to urinate in his pants while singing “I’m a little teapot.” Fallon and friends hit themselves in the groin with footballs, golf balls and car doors in one segment.
Then there were the boos at Bogie’s bar. The crowd didn’t want his stand up act. They came to hear Perfect Thyroid, who once wrote a song called “Catbutt.” He did better at Saint Rose’s St. Joseph Hall, the first place he performed comedy.
But offstage, it was easier to get laughs. There was the time he got kicked out of the Playdium for doing a human bowling ball routine.
Then there was Tulip Fest, when his friends ran out of beer. One guy volunteered to let concertgoers punch him in the stomach if they donated alcohol. It didn’t take long to get a case.
During the middle of his senior year, Fallon asked his advisor, Mary Alice Molgard, if he should move to Los Angeles.
“From the professional standpoint, it’s ‘What? Are you nuts?’” she said this week.
Fallon was not at Saint Rose that spring semester of 1996.
He moved to Los Angeles during television show pilot season. He didn’t even have his own television, quickly maxed out all his credit cards and ate a lot of Ramen noodles.
He remembers being wistful for Albany. Here was the good life. Nights at the Lampost or the Partridge pub. Hamburger Helper from Price Chopper on Madison Avenue. An apartment with three other guys on Western Avenue, where you could watch kids fighting from the window after the bars closed. A 1992 Nissan Maxima with a non-working cell phone attached.
“You second guess yourself,” he said, “you’re getting letters from college saying we miss you.”
He ended up playing the Improv comedy club on L.A.’s strip. It paid $8.75 per gig and gave him dinner.
About three years later, he was in New York, doing his impressions routine for Lorne Michaels, the producer and creator of Saturday Night Live.
They were routines he started to develop at Saint Rose, imitating classmates and professors, the place where he learned he was funny.
Communications Department Chair Fred Antico doesn’t award degrees for celebrity. So in April, he traveled to Rockefeller Plaza, where he grilled his former student on what he had learned about communicating since he left Albany. It was pass or fail.
“He’s got a breadth of depth of knowledge that’s adequate, actually that’s more than adequate, to earning his degree,” Antico said.
On Saturday, Saint Rose president Mark Sullivan will hand Fallon his degree as his parents snap their cameras from the audience. The old Jimmy Fallon from Saugerties might have finished off college with a keg stand a few hours after graduation, but now he’ll head right back to New York for a cameo on Saturday Night Live.
Before he does that, the 34-year-old will hand his mother the Saint Rose degree she has been begging him to finish for more than a decade. And she’ll take it home, have it framed, and finally fill that empty spot on her living room wall.
THEY KNEW HIM BACK WHEN …
While a student at the College of Saint Rose, Jimmy Fallon acted in a student video production called 40 Whacks. In this excerpt, from April 1995, he threatens two hoodlums who are trying to steal his wallet. (Courtesy of Mike Goudreau and Ron Mattice)