Jimmy Fallon Biography: From 'SNL' to 'Late Night'

Born September 19th, 1974 in Brooklyn, New York, Jimmy Fallon was named "Most Likely to Replace David Letterman" while still a student. He acted on his dream to pursue a career on "Saturday Night Live" by finally auditioning for the show, and winning a spot in 1998. From there, Fallon became famous for his great impersonations, innovative musical numbers, and constant giggling during sketches. He tried to parlay his "SNL" success into a movie career to some success, but finally found his way as a late night talk show host in 2009. In this video, WatchMojo.com learns more about the life and career of Jimmy Fallon.

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Biography of Jimmy Fallon

He makes us laugh, and cracks himself up in the process. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be learning more about the life and career of Jimmy Fallon.

Early Life

James Thomas Fallon, Jr. was born September 19th, 1974 in Brooklyn, New York. As a child, Fallon took up the guitar, and became an impressive impersonator by mimicking “Saturday Night Live” skits. In school, he was labeled “Most Likely to Replace David Letterman.” After switching majors from Computer Science to Communications, Fallon dropped out of college in 1996 to follow his comedy dreams in LA.

First Acting Job

In California, he joined The Groundlings improv troupe and practiced stand-up. He made his first TV appearance on the sitcom “Spin City” in 1998. But soon, he was back in his home state fulfilling his childhood wish to try out for “Saturday Night Live.”

“Saturday Night Live”

During his audition, Fallon did what he does best: impressions. The show’s stone-faced creator Lorne Michaels found him laugh-out-loud funny, and brought him on for the ’98-’99 season alongside Will Ferrell, Tracy Morgan and Molly Shannon. That year, Fallon also co-wrote a book with his sister, called “I Hate This Place: The Pessimist's Guide to Life.”

Breakout Star

It wasn’t long before Fallon was considered a breakout star due to his energetic performances, pitch-perfect impersonations, clever musical numbers and charming good looks. He was made a full cast member after his first season, despite his reputation for breaking during sketches.

Popular Characters

Fallon made his mark with recurring characters like Sully, one of the Boston Teens, and stoner web host Jarret, as well as with celebrity imitations like Mick Jagger and Barry Gibb. In 2000, he became the sometimes cocky, sometimes goofy foil to the more serious Tina Fey as co-anchor of Weekend Update.

Outside “SNL”

During his time at “SNL,” Fallon brought his animated comedy to a wider audience as host of multiple MTV Awards ceremonies. He showed glimpses of dramatic skill as Stillwater’s manager in 2000’s “Almost Famous” and on the World War II miniseries “Band of Brothers.”

Stand-Up Album

In 2002, Fallon put his stand-up skills on tape to release his first comedy album, “The Bathroom Wall,” and this earned him a Grammy nomination the next year. Also in 2003, Fallon appeared in the Woody Allen bomb “Anything Else.”

After “SNL”

Despite this setback, Fallon chose to leave “SNL” in 2004 to nurture his blossoming film career. His first post-“SNL” flick was the flop “Taxi” with Queen Latifah, which he followed with the marginally more successful “Fever Pitch” in 2005. There he met his future wife, Drew Barrymore’s business partner Nancy Juvonen. It was also in 2005 that he published the children’s book “Snowball Fight.”

Laying Low

Fallon then chose to mostly avoid the spotlight, but he appeared in 2006’s “Factory Girl,” lent his voice to a couple of animated features and showed off his dance moves in a Pepsi ad. He continued making the comedy club rounds, and soon his efforts turned altruistic when he wrote the song “Car Wash for Peace” in 2007 and donated the proceeds to charity. He also increased his visibility by parodying a popular online video.

“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”

By 2008, Fallon was back in the headlines as one of the frontrunners to replace Conan O’Brien as host of NBC’s “Late Night.” He took the reins in early 2009, and after a slow start “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” found its groove and became a hit.

Late Night Success

On the show, Fallon showed his excitement while interviewing celebrity guests, interacted with audience members and his house band The Roots, and tapped into his “SNL” origins by shooting skits, spoofs, impersonations and musical parodies.

More Accomplishments

Fallon laced up his skates for 2009’s “Whip It,” and was finally awarded his college degree in communications due to his accomplishments in the field that year. In 2010, he brought zeal to the Primetime Emmy Awards as host, and increased viewership as a result.

“Blow Your Pants Off”

As his late night success continued, Fallon released a compilation album of his musical parodies in 2012, with guest appearances from stars like Stephen Colbert, Paul McCartney and Justin Timberlake.


While he incurred the wrath of many “SNL” fans because of his constant giggling, Jimmy Fallon’s genuine enthusiasm, likeability and raw talent have made him a star.

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