Fallon Musses Trump Hair, Media Goes Wild

Ken Tucker
Critic-at-Large

Word leaked out early Thursday evening that Jimmy Fallon had fingered Donald Trump’s follicles during a taping of The Tonight Show. “Can I mess your hair up?” asked Fallon, his face distorted in his standard rictus of wild hilarity. Trump was clearly not surprised by the request. He grimaced coyly and looked out at the audience with a should-I-be-a-naughty-boy-and-play-along? glance. The crowd whooped and cheered as Fallon executed The Great Muss. The media fell into line with notable gullibility.

“He smiled as he let it happen”! was the breathless sub-head on Time.com’s story, which continued in amazement: “Donald Trump allowed Jimmy Fallon to mess up his famous hair on national television during a Thursday taping of The Tonight Show.” That “national television” was a nice grace-note, as though Trump usually appeared only at small-town, local TV stations.

Over on Fox News’s The Kelly File, a chyron beneath the host proclaimed, “Trump Shows Sense of Humor On Late Night TV.” Megyn Kelly found it extraordinarily encouraging that Trump should submit to Fallon’s mild joshing, and suggested that Hillary Clinton’s recent drop in some polls might be ascribed to some degree by the Democrat’s lack of Trump-style wild-and-crazy-guy-ness.

Breaking news, folks: Before the taping, producers discuss with guests what they’ll talk about and do with hosts! You can be sure that if Fallon hadn’t cleared The Muss with Trump before the Tonight Show began, one of Trump’s security detail would have had Jimmy pinned to his desk before his digits reached Trump’s nimbus of hair-spray.

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The actual interview was toothless even by Fallon’s gummy standards. Fallon thanked Trump “for giving us the material that we are doing.” He said Trump has been “amazing to follow”: “You say some shocking things that I cannot even believe.” Thus does Fallon join the ranks of TV journalists in normalizing Trump’s most incendiary comments. In this case, “I cannot even believe” is code for “How are you continuing to get away with this stuff?”

Alas, guest Norm Macdonald appeared after Trump — it would have been interesting to see one of the world’s greatest talk-show guests join in the chat with Trump. Macdonald, there to plug his new book Based On A True Story, did say he shook hands with Trump backstage and that his hand was “enormous… like Andre the Giant’s, or Johnny Bench with his catcher’s mitt on.”

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. on NBC.