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'The show must go on': Why Jimmy Fallon is doing 'The Tonight Show' from home

The late-night host said he was reminded of some sound advice he got from a comedy legend.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Drew Weisholtz

Americans remain isolated in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, but that won’t stop Jimmy Fallon from entertaining his “Tonight Show” viewers.

The “Saturday Night Live” alum, who’s been hosting a scaled-down, mini version of his show from his home each night on YouTube, appeared on TODAY Thursday to explain why it’s so important to keep doing the program.

“The show must go on is kind of the thing that we learned back when I did ‘SNL,’” he said. “I was thinking back, probably the last time I felt something like this was probably 9/11 and I was on ‘Saturday Night Live’ then and I looked to my late-night hosts, Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien and David Letterman, to see what they’re doing. I’m so happy that they were there for me.”

Fallon’s stripped-down program has become a family affair, with his wife, Nancy, operating the camera and their two daughters doing the graphics. While it’s a frightening time for many, Fallon said he once received some key advice from Letterman about how to act in times of crisis.

Jimmy Fallon's daughter guest stars in the at-home edition of "The Tonight Show."The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

“I remember Letterman saying that it’s a time right now to be courageous and he said sometimes pretending to be courageous is just as good,” he said. “And my wife reminded me of that quote. And so I said, ‘Yeah, we should do something. I have to do something.’”

"The Tonight Show" suspended production last week, one of many programs to halt taping. Despite that, Fallon said he has been in contact with his producers and writers, who have all been gung-ho about helping.

“Everyone wants to help. Everyone wants to do something, even if it’s two minutes of calm and some type of normalcy. I think it’s good for everyone,” he said.

Fallon is certainly making the best out of a bad situation. During his TODAY appearance, he announced plans for the "cowbell challenge" this Friday at 3 p.m. EST, encouraging everyone to grab a cowbell or pot and pan and step outside or open a window and bang together in unison.

He also said he hopes to help raise money for a different charity each night. His inaugural show urged people to donate to Feeding America and Wednesday night’s episode shined a light on Broadway Cares.

And when he’s not hosting the show, Fallon remains in close quarters with his family, which has been a blessing in some ways.

“It’s been actually really kind of bonding,” he said. “It’s like getting to know everybody.”