Interview: Jimmy Fallon, Author Of 'Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada' The Tonight Show host's new children's book was inspired by his daughters. He tells NPR about his efforts to trick his first daughter into saying "dada" and his family's struggle to conceive.
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If Jimmy Fallon Gets His Way, 'Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada'

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If Jimmy Fallon Gets His Way, 'Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada'

If Jimmy Fallon Gets His Way, 'Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada'

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Jimmy Fallon belongs to a very select group in comedy as host of "The Tonight Show."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

STEVE HIGGINS: Here he is, Jimmy Fallon.

(APPLAUSE)

SHAPIRO: Things seem to come easy for the 40-year-old star. One thing that didn't was fatherhood.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Fallon and his wife struggled with fertility issues for years but now have two daughters. One is almost 2 years old, the other just six months. They're the inspiration for Fallon's new children's book. It's called "Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada."

SHAPIRO: It shows daddy animals trying desperately to get their babies to say dada as their first word and totally failing. The book captures Fallon's own effort to be his first daughter Winnie's favorite parent. Our colleague David Greene caught up with Fallon in his office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. And before discussing the book, David really wanted to see one room flush with "Tonight Show" history.

DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: And is your bathroom right here? I don't ask everyone to see their bathroom...

JIMMY FALLON: Yeah.

GREENE: ...But I heard there - of your photos in your private bathroom.

FALLON: This is weird that we're going in here. But this is - Johnny Carson had his own line of suits and so these are all the, like, magazine ads for Johnny Carson's line of polyester suits.

GREENE: OK.

FALLON: So it's Johnny playing tennis. Here's Johnny scuba diving. You can do anything in these suits. Of course, he's not wearing the suits in any of those photos. And of course you need a case of tequila in your bathroom.

GREENE: Everyone does.

FALLON: (Laughter) Yes. It's the George Clooney tequila.

GREENE: Yeah - oh, really?

FALLON: Yeah, George Clooney has his own tequila. It's fantastic.

GREENE: That I did not know.

FALLON: Which is a good segue into...

GREENE: Into a children's book?

FALLON: George Clooney can have a tequila. Can't I have a children's book?

GREENE: Well, I'm glad you're doing this. We usually have our authors read a passage or two from the book when we have them on the show. And I thought - I mean, maybe you could start with yours just...

FALLON: Yeah.

GREENE: ...Maybe from the beginning to the donkey section.

FALLON: (Laughter).

>>GREENE. That would be

FALLON: Well, this - all right. I wish we had some piano accompaniment.

GREENE: We might be able to add it later. If...

FALLON: Well, this would be great if you can add that.

GREENE: Yeah, we'll try to work that into production.

FALLON: Here we go. So cue the piano music now.

(SOUNDBITE OF PIANO MUSIC)

FALLON: (Reading) The dada cow says, dada. And then the baby cow says, moo.

GREENE: Which probably makes the dad uncomfortable because - not getting the message from dad.

FALLON: Turn the page and it's a cute sheep. And the sheep says, dada. And the baby sheep says, baa. You see where we're going?

GREENE: I see what you're doing here.

FALLON: So they have bees and then dogs and then you have a rabbit and a cat. The donkey, one of my personal favorites, the dad says, dada, and the baby donkey says, hee-haw.

GREENE: Very nice.

FALLON: So you can go, hee-haw. The thing about this book is there's no real point to it like, oh, don't be a bully, don't, you know, accept it. And it's a selfish thing. I just want the baby's first word to be dada. I don't care if she's smart. I have one agenda, and that is that the baby's first word should be dada.

GREENE: OK, so did you actually carry out and wage this campaign with Winnie, your first daughter?

FALLON: I would try to - yeah - trick her to saying dada. I would call everything in the house dada, like her bottle. And I'd go, dada time. You know, and, like, do you want another dada? Again, I don't care if she's stupid. I really just want her to say dada.

GREENE: I think about you reading to your two young daughters and, you know, a book like this. And then I think about you and your wife's struggle with fertility issues for a while.

FALLON: Yeah. It was a tough time, and it's like, it's not easy. We didn't know, you know, which one of us wasn't clicking or what. But I tried - I slept upside down at one point. I was dangling from the ceiling, I - (laughter). You know, like, you drink teas. And my wife - gosh - she just put up with a lot of stuff. Luckily, got involved with surrogate and so she had our babies. And it was like she's a blessing. It was the best thing that ever happened to us. I promised myself I wouldn't be that guy when I had a baby, like, oh, want to see a picture of my babies? My whole iPhone is just all baby pictures. I don't take - it used to be, I guess, food? I don't know what else you take with your iPhone (laughter). It's either food - breakfast - it's brunch or babies.

GREENE: Well, did going through kind of those challenges shape the way you approach fatherhood in some way?

FALLON: I guess so. I mean, I definitely really appreciate what I have. I mean, I just love them so much, and it's insane. It was a long time. It's just kind of - it's just a weird time. A lot of people don't really talk about it that much, you know? And I think they should. I don't know whether it'd be as big of issue if, like, you know, should you freeze your eggs or whatever when you're a woman? No one talks about it for - I don't think I should be the spokesperson for that stuff, but you can talk to my wife about it (laughter). But she was like, no one told you.

GREENE: You know, the book is really playful, and your comedy is playful. And I mean, I think of late-night television and, you know, it used to be if you were at the water cooler at work, people might be talking about what Letterman or Leno said in a monologue. When I'm coming to talk to you, I had friends saying, you know, oh, my God, did you see Fallon making Christina Aguilera do an impression and how crazy that was.

FALLON: That was great, right? She did Britney Spears.

GREENE: It was incredible.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE TONIGHT SHOW")

CHRISTINA AGUILERA: (Singing) This little piggy went to the market.

(APPLAUSE)

AGUILERA: (Singing) This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy went, wee, wee all the way home.

(APPLAUSE)

FALLON: You can be as creative as you want. You can do just weird bits. Some things work. Some things don't. We always tell our guests, like, you can always say no, but we have this idea where we want you to be in a giant bird's nest. And you're a man who plays the flute and has rhyming couplets. And Jude Law was like, OK, I'll do it. I'm like, really?

GREENE: I want to ask you about something that Questlove said, your own bandleader. From the moment he met you, he said, you had this ability to turn all of us into 13-year-olds. The spirit of J.M. Barrie is in you.

FALLON: (Laughter).

GREENE: I mean, Barrie created "Peter Pan." Do you see yourself as a grown-up?

FALLON: I guess. I guess I am technically a grown-up, yeah, yeah, yeah. But if you can play with everything, have fun all day, why would you not choose that over, you know - I mean, this doesn't feel like work to me. This is like total play. My job is make you smile before you go to bed. So no matter what I - I'll do whatever I have to do. I'll dress up as a 15-year-old girl and say, ew, you know, whatever - if it'll make you laugh. If you don't think about your problems for one hour, then I did my job.

GREENE: Jimmy Fallon, thanks for letting us come by.

FALLON: So fun - come back to the office. It was great. You know how to get in now.

GREENE: We do (laughter). We got...

FALLON: I'm giving you a key on the way out.

GREENE: That is "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon. His book "Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada" is out today. Now before leaving his office, we did have to ask Jimmy about those famous impressions he does on the show. Sometimes it's with the guest he's imitating sitting right next to him.

FALLON: When they're there, I get - the impressions better. If I do "Seinfeld," I go like, (imitating Jerry Seinfeld) OK, this is crazy. You have a book out. And you're an author writing a kid's book.

And then he goes, (imitating Jerry Seinfeld) I know. I can't believe that I do that. I have a kid's - you have a...

And he brings his impression up to my impression, and it's just - things get weird. Things get weird and it's, again, people having fun.

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