For years now, rumors about Jimmy Fallon’s alleged drinking problem have been circulating online and in the tabloid media.
The speculation was spurred by numerous witnesses who gave accounts of Fallon frequently getting “very drunk” at NYC bars after completing filming on The Tonight Show.
There were even reports that Fallon’s bosses at NBC were concerned about his hard-partying ways.
Now, Fallon is finally speaking out about the controversies that have plagued his squeaky-clean nice guy image in a candid interview with The New York Times.
While Fallon’s comments about tousling Donald Trump’s hair in a much-derided pre-election interview have attracted the most attention on social media, the 42-year-old comic also made some surprising revelations about his fondness for the sauce.
Asked about a New York Post piece that described him as “out of control” and attributed Fallon’s recent injuries to drunken accidents, the host shrugged off the accusations – but tellingly did not deny that he’s a heavy drinker.
“I could never do a day-to-day job if I was drinking every night,” Fallon insisted.
He went on to claim that the rumors about his drinking are part of an effort to further demoralize him during his current career slump.
“That’s just kicking you when you’re down,” he told the newspaper.
After years of late night dominance, Fallon’s show has now fallen to second place in the ratings behind the much more politically-charged Late Night with Stephen Colbert.
Industry analysts believe Fallon’s young, mostly left-leaning audience felt alienated by his controversial Trump interview, but the amiable SNL alum says his intentions have been misinterpreted:
“I didn’t do it to humanize him,” Fallon said.
“I almost did it to minimize him. I didn’t think that would be a compliment: ‘He did the thing that we all wanted to do.’”
He added that becoming a frequent butt of jokes on social media has taken an unexpected emotional toll:
“I’m a people pleaser,” he continued.
“If there’s one bad thing on Twitter about me, it will make me upset. So, after this happened, I was devastated. I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just trying to have fun.”
As for the rumors of a feud between Fallon and Colbert, Jimmy insists that the hosts remain close friends and claims he’s never been one to worry about the ratings.
“We’re winning in something. People in the height requirement between 5-7 and 5-11, we’re No. 1, from 11:50 to 11:55,” he joked.
“I never, ever care. I’ll know when someone fires me.”