"Live from New York, it's ... " Jimmy Fallon!
That might not seem overly novel, since NBC's Emmy-winning "Late Night" host is Manhattan-based with his talk show every weeknight. But he finds it a very big deal to return to "Saturday Night Live" as a first-time guest host, which he'll do with the iconic NBC comedy program's Christmas episode Saturday, Dec. 17.
"It's like a dream come true," the ever-amiable Fallon says of spending a week with executive producer Lorne Michaels and an ensemble cast again. "I've always wanted to host 'Saturday Night Live.' It's an honor." Fallon was an "SNL" regular from 1998 to 2004, encompassing his tenure as a "Weekend Update" anchor.
With Michael Buble set as musical guest ("I know the ladies like him"), Fallon believes the essentials for a successful "SNL" guest host stint are in place. "You hopefully have a great cast, which is what they have there, so I'm very psyched about getting to play with them. I think it's the last year for a couple of them; I heard it might be Kristen Wiig's last season, so I'm really excited to work with her.
"They've got some new people who are great as well, Taran (Killam) and Bobby (Moynihan) and Nasim (Pedrad). And of course, there's Andy Samberg, and there's Fred (Armisen), who was in the cast when I was on the show. And Seth Meyers, who's now the head writer, was just a featured player when I was there."
Being on board for the "SNL" Christmas show has particular meaning to Fallon.
"That was my favorite episode of the whole season," Fallon says. "Everyone's in a good mood, New York is so exciting during the holidays, and they are ready (at 'SNL') to skewer and satirize as much as they possibly can.
"At the end of the holiday episode, the host normally says goodbye with the cast down on the (Rockefeller Center) ice-skating rink. That is just crazy when it's 1 in the morning in New York City. It's just so cool! I'm hoping the arrangements are being made, because I want to do that. Even if I have to climb over the wall."
In an odd way even for him, Fallon's "SNL" hosting stint was preordained long ago ... by none other than Alec Baldwin, who has filled that role a record-setting 16 times. "My first season, I did a sketch with him where I was the Ghost of Hosts Future," Fallon recalls. "He said, 'Jimmy Fallon? You, host?' And I went, 'Yeah. I host the show in December 2011.'
"At the time, I was brand-new, and no one knew who I was, and Alec Baldwin said to me, 'What is your name?' I said, 'Jimmy Fallon.' And he said, 'OK. Jimmy Fallon, I'm going to say your name on television more than anyone has ever said it. By tomorrow, people will know who you are.' And he did. I'll never forget it."
"Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" will be in repeats for the week leading up to Fallon's "Saturday Night Live" return, since he says from experience -- which also includes his 2010 job as Primetime Emmy Awards host -- that "you have to immerse yourself and make everything the best possible.
"I would say 'Saturday Night Live,' my show and 'Sesame Street' are probably the only three shows that work that well. I know that the moment ('SNL' announcer) Don Pardo says, ' ... And your host, Jimmy Fallon,' it's going to be emotional for me. I've worked all my life to host that show, so I hope I do it justice."