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Jimmy Fallon Returned to Stand-Up Comedy and "Killed It" as Nate Bargatze's Opener

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Host performed a rare stand-up set on January 18 as part of Bargatze's The Be Funny Tour.

By Samantha Vincenty

On January 18, Jimmy Fallon got back to his comedy roots—as an opening act.

How to Watch

Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC weeknights at 11:35/10:35c and next day on Peacock

The Host of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon popped up to perform a rare stand-up comedy set at New Jersey's Prudential Center. The headliner who found a slot for Fallon on the lineup? Fallon's friend Nate Bargatze, who is keeping his Be Funny Tour on the road through at least summer 2024. 

"There’s no place I’d rather be, on a Thursday, in the middle of January, than Newark, New Jersey," Fallon wrote in an Instagram caption thanking Bargatze and the other comedians on the bill for "letting me crash the tour last night."

Comedians and one magician, that is, as Nate Bargatze's professional illusionist father, Stephen Bargatze, is among the tour performers. Fallon's photos included two with Bargatze, one of Fallon onstage delivering jokes, and a group shot with the Bargatzes and comedians Julian McCullough, Mike James, Jonnie W., and Gary Vider. 

RELATED: Watch Nate Bargatze's SNL Stand-Up Monologue and Sketches

"You killed it last night! Always welcome!!" Bargatze commented. The comedian, who hosted Saturday Night Live in October 2023, has appeared on The Tonight Show 13 times in a mix of stand-up and interviews.

Jimmy Fallon's stand-up comedy career predates his SNL days

Before taking command of the Tonight Show desk (after hosting Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009-2014), Fallon was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1998-2004. But before that, he performed both sketch comedy and stand-up onstage. 

In fact, Fallon was just 17 years old when he began performing standup comedy. Footage of a baby-faced Fallon making an audience laugh in 1997 involves a mix of celebrity impressions, and guitar-driven parodies that shaped his Y2K-era "Weekend Update" appearances. Watch it here.

In October 2023, Fallon told The Tonight Show audience that he was even considering touring a stand-up comedy show of his own after performing a surprise set at New York City's Comedy Cellar. The spur-of-the-moment choice to get onstage came after a dinner with comedians Mike Birbiglia and Chris Rock, with Fallon later joining Rock to appear at the comedy club. 

“So Chris Rock gets up, surprises the audience and destroys. He’s unbelievable," Fallon recounted at the time, his excitement evident. "And so I went up to give him a bottle of water as a goof, and everybody started clapping, and he took the microphone and he [handed it out to me]."

It was Fallon's first stand-up set in 10 years (riffing on the spot, as they say in the biz) and it evidently inspired him to work on some new material. 

"I felt like the comedy gods were just telling me, you know, ‘Yeah, you should do stand-up again," he added. A stage, a subway platform Green Day concert—you truly never know where Jimmy Fallon will pop up next.

A split of Jimmy Fallon and Nate Bargatze