Late night TV viewers were in for a big surprise on Friday when, in honor of April Fools’ Day, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon switched places, taking over each other’s shows for the night.
To the shock of in-studio audience members and at-home viewers alike, Kimmel took over The Tonight Show, interviewing Hugh Jackman and Bridget Everett, while Fallon appeared in Los Angeles to host Jimmy Kimmel Live! with special guest Justin Timberlake and Kimmel’s Aunt Chippy. The Red Hot Chili Peppers appeared as musical guest on both shows.
The Hollywood Reporter was in the crowd at the Kimmel (hosted by Fallon) taping, where audience members had no idea of the swap until Fallon came out on stage to kick off the show, with cameras rolling. As the crowd leapt to its feet, Fallon teased, “Hi, I’m Jimmy,” and as the cheers continued joked, “Settle down, you’re going to offend the other Jimmy.”
After a series of monologue quips (“For surprises on ABC this week, this one’s a distant second,” in reference to Sunday’s Oscar drama, and feeling like he was entering the “late night multiverse”), Fallon admitted “we worked really hard to keep this a secret,” explaining that the two hosts had been discussing the prank for four years.
After the monologue, the duo had a live check-in, with Kimmel in Fallon’s 30 Rock studio and Fallon on Kimmel’s Hollywood Boulevard set. “I love that we did this — I can’t believe we pulled it off,” Fallon remarked, noting that the inspiration was “Jimmy and I wanted to have some fun with people mixing us up all the time.” An on-camera bit they had filmed earlier in the week highlighted the point, as the two switched in and out of staged photos with fans, and several appeared to not even notice a difference between them.
During the commercial break, Fallon took the mic to further explain the behind-the-scenes details to the L.A. audience, remembering when he spoke to a fan for 20 minutes about how much she loved his show, only for her to remark at the end how she had just met Jimmy Kimmel. But the Tonight Show host also said, “I couldn’t be mistaken for a better guy.”
Timberlake appeared as the first guest of the night, impersonating Kimmel “enemy” Matt Damon for the first segment. Dressed in Boston Red Sox hat and jersey, Timberlake answered questions as Damon about his family and career, and at the end of the bit spray-painted “I Love Matt Damon” on Kimmel’s desk.
The star and close Fallon friend came back in the second segment as himself, but first, Fallon — with career-long ties to NBC — recorded promos for that night’s show, teasing, “We’re doing commercials, and this is going to air on ABC? I can’t even tell you how happy this makes me.”
Timberlake returned to do “Sweet Tweets” with Fallon, a nicer version of Kimmel’s signature Mean Tweets bit; in NYC, Kimmel also gave his take on Fallon’s Thank You Notes segment. Kimmel’s Aunt Chippy, who did not know about the host swap, was also brought out, as she yelled of her nephew’s consistent pranking, “There’s no end; it never ends.”
As the show wrapped, Fallon thanked the show’s writers and producers for “so much work that went into pulling this all off,” and before he left the stage once again addressed the in-studio audience, admitting, “I was so nervous to come out here, like what if they boo me?” He received quite the opposite reaction, though, adding: “Tonight has been so much fun.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism