Late night TV has evolved to compensate for the prominence of YouTube, making most late night shows today a series of easily digestible clips to watch the next morning. This means different things for different shows. For Jimmy Fallon, it means games and lots of them.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with Fallon’s approach – who doesn’t want to watch Chris Evans lose a game and pour ice water down his tight Captain America jeans? – but sometimes the viral sensibility of his Tonight Show doesn’t leave a lot of room for pure improvisational brilliance. Leslie Jones is a comedic agent of chaos, though. You put her on your show and you can’t keep her in a preformatted box. She just makes her own moment.
On last night’s show, Fallon asked the SNL and Ghostbusters star if she could stump Dr. Phil with a round of “Truth or Lie.” Jones barely hesitates before launching into her story: “I got chased through a drive-thru by a car. On a date.”
Dr. Phil, following the rules of the game, begins his interrogation to pick apart the story. That’s when Jones does the funniest thing that’s happened on Fallon’s show in quite some time. Just watch:
It’s not just the joke. It’s the perfect deadpan expression as she delivers the joke. It’s Fallon crumpling up his notes because he realizes the spotlight has shifted and it’s her show now. It’s The Roots realizing the moment needs its own musical cue. And it’s the audience, laughing somewhat sporadically at first and then flat-out roaring as more of them get it. It’s a perfect little comedy moment, made better by the feeling that this isn’t something that would have happened in rehearsal.
Now, if we can just convince HBO to hire Jones for her weekly Game of Thrones aftershow, “Game of Jones.”