You Can Blame the Monkees for Jimmy Fallon
It’s tempting to blame Lorne Michaels for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. After all, Michaels was not only the man who gave Fallon his big break on Saturday Night Live while the aspiring comic was still struggling in Groundlings classes. He also handpicked Fallon to helm his version of Carson’s classic late-night talker. But according to Fallon, there’s another party responsible for his comedy career: made-for-TV pop supergroup the Monkees.
While still an unknown stand-up in the mid-1990s, Fallon got a gig opening for the reunited Monkees in L.A., which he reminded drummer Micky Dolenz of last night on The Tonight Show. A starstruck Fallon worked up the nerve to say hello to Dolenz and Davy Jones. Dolenz asked the young comic, “What’s your name again — Jimmy?” before telling him, “I think you got something there, kid.”
Fallon was “freaking out” about meeting the Monkees, but Dolenz’s encouragement didn’t stop there. At the time, he was directing a TV pilot (Dolenz directed TV pilots?) and suggested Fallon talk to his manager about auditioning for the show. That’s just what happened, although the show never saw the light of day. “I wanted to tell you, it built my confidence as a comedian and someone who couldn’t get a gig or get a callback or anything,” Fallon gushed. “That little boost, that little someone believing in you really meant a lot to me, and I’ll never forget it and I really thank you so much.”
In other improbable Monkees lore, the two men reminisced about another Jimmy who once opened for the group — Jimi Hendrix. Before Hendrix had popped into the national consciousness, Dolenz caught his set in a small New York club and booked him as an opening act. But it was a tough gig for Hendrix. As Hendrix ripped into “Purple Haze,” remembers Dolenz, the crowd would shout over the legendary guitarist with chants of “We want Davy! We want the Monkees!”
To end his Tonight Show segment, starmaker Dolenz grabbed a tambourine and sang a fevered rendition of “Last Train to Clarksville,” giving us all time to ponder if the Monkees were responsible for several of our darkest timelines.