What Jimmy Fallon Can Teach Us This Lent

imgresMy wife and I sit on our couch, home from work on what constitutes a snow day in Baltimore. We’re surrounded by computers and pastries (because it’s the day before Lent and that’s acceptable) and up to our elbows in emails, phone calls and other emails.

“Did you see Jimmy Fallon’s recap of the SNL 40 party?” she asks.

“No,” I reply, wondering what emails I’m not receiving that inspire thoughts of Jimmy Fallon and SNL parties.

Well, the next nine minutes of our day was suddenly spoken for. You can watch the clip here. I promise—it’s worth your nine minutes.

As we neared the end of the clip, I said (as I usually do amidst a Fallon clip), “Man, he just seems like a nice guy. I’d be friends with him.” And, after reminding me that I always say that, she, as per usual, agreed.

Now, I admit to not knowing Jimmy Fallon on anything that resembles a personal level. He’s a funny guy I like to watch on TV. And, I don’t really know what his spirituality may or may not look like. (Though, if you’re interested, he did make some statements on how he missed the more traditional form of the Mass.)

I do, though, find his TV persona—whether that’s how he is in real life or not—to be something I’m drawn to. He’s not just a positive guy; he’s affirming. Listen to him describe a movie he just saw, his next guest or the musical act that’s going to be in town on Friday. You’ll probably hear expressions like these:

  • She’s the best.
  • We love him.
  • They’re so talented.
  • She’s so good.
  • Unbelievably great.

And more. Just listen to any of the introductions.

Do I imagine Jimmy Fallon walks down the street showering the random passerby with such praise? Probably not. I mean, I don’t. But maybe he does, and good for him.

And right there is where this connects with Lent. Because while watching that clip, I began to wonder: what if this Lent, we tried to include a handful of these affirming phrases in our everyday vocabulary? What if we made a habit of raining down kindness—even exaggerated, over-the-top kindness—on those people we encounter every day?

I really don’t think Fallon thinks every star on his show is the best. I suppose you could call him a liar, that it’s better to tell people like it is. But as we walk through these forty days, let’s check to see what our default setting is on. Is our kneejerk reaction to the negative, to the, “Well, it’s not that great and here’s why”? Or do we instinctually say, “Hey man, that’s pretty good,” even if there’s just a thing or two here and there we might have done differently. What habits do we want to form this Lent?

Let’s ask ourselves where Jesus might fall on that spectrum. WWJD: What Would Jimmy, er, Jesus Do?

Eric Clayton

Eric Clayton serves as a program officer at Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore. He's Jesuit educated -- a graduate of Fairfield University -- and has spent time with the Salesians teaching English in Bolivia.