Fallon Files: Jimmy Cannot Keep Up With Martin Short

Most people can’t, but he’s particularly bad at it

Todd Owyoung/NBC
He Didn't Even Try

Welcome to the Fallon Files, a weekly-ish series chronicling only the lowest lows of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.


As a talk show host, you could not ask for a better guest than Martin Short. He shows up to every appearance with jokes in his pocket, he’s famously kind, and at 72 he has more energy than a lot of the people who come onto late night shows to fulfill a contractual obligation to promote some piece of garbage.

As Martin Short, you could certainly ask for a better host than Jimmy Fallon, who just cannot keep up. All he is capable of doing is clapping and laughing like a baby without a sense of object permanence. Nevertheless, Short persevered on Thursday night, barrelling through seven minutes of jokes and even letting Jimmy speak once or twice.

“James Thomas Fallon, my God, your name screams out diversity,” Short said as soon as he sat down, immediately cutting Jimmy off. The roast continued from there, with Short telling Jimmy, “Now I haven’t seen you since the big Saudi golf tournament. Who knew that you and the Crown Prince were such buddies? The giggling and the giggling. He’s knitting and you’re holding the wool.”

Jimmy couldn’t even take it. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t even say full words, just sounds that resemble the start of a thought.

“In fact, tell everyone what you were telling me about how the Proud Boys is so much more than a club, what did you mean by that?” Short asked Fallon. Incredible stuff.

If you’re wondering what it looks like when someone can actually go head-to-head with Short (as much as that is possible), look to his 2018 interview with Stephen Colbert.

On The Late Show, Short’s mouth is still running a mile a minute, but this interaction at least resembles a conversation. Colbert gets his own jokes in, he asks questions, Short asks questions of him. This is two funny guys relating to one another, whereas on Fallon, Short might as well be doing a one-man show.

Maybe the Only Murders in the Building star should be the litmus test for all aspiring late night hosts. If you can hold your own against him, you get to have a show. That might mean that the only people allowed to host a late night show (so far) are Colbert and David Letterman, but we’d be doing all of humanity a favor.